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Research Initiatives

New Research Grant to Study Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

The Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass Memorial Healthcare congratulate Drs. Mark Johnson, Hongwei Yang and Rona Carroll for receiving a five year, 2.6 million dollar research grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the genetics of Idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (iNPH).  iNPH is a mysterious neurological disorder that afflicts patients over the age of sixty and is characterized by gait difficulty, incontinence and cognitive impairment. Brain imaging shows an excess accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. The symptoms of iNPH can be improved by draining the cerebrospinal fluid. It has been estimated that nearly 1 in 6 nursing home residents has iNPH, but the vast majority of these patients remain undiagnosed.  In fact, iNPH is often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, or just “old age”. The cause of iNPH is unknown.  According to Dr. Johnson, who is the Principal Investigator of the study, “this grant will allow us to apply cutting edge scientific techniques to examine whether there is a genetic contribution to this disorder. If successful, we will gain a better understanding of what causes this disease, and we hope to develop strategies to treat it more effectively or to prevent it altogether. ”