Rock Star with 'Curable' Dementia Goes Back on Tour
Guitarist Dick Wagner thought his career as a rock star, with bands like Alice Cooper, Aerosmith and Kiss, was over when he began suffering from health problems and dementia like symptoms in 2007.
After a stroke and heart attack he told “Good Morning America,” "I woke up from a coma after two weeks with a paralyzed left arm. My profession as a guitarist, I thought was over."
Things only got worse for the musician, now 70 and living in Arizona. He started to experience mental fuzziness and trouble walking.
"I couldn't turn to the left as I walked, only to the right, and I would do a spiral and fall," he said. "I fell completely flat on my face in the driveway on the concrete. I didn't know what had happened to me."
Wagner fell again, and landed in the hospital with a blood clot and had to have surgery.
It turned out the health trouble wasn't a result of his stroke or caused by old age. In 2011, doctors discovered the root of the problem, NPH, or normal pressure hydrophalus. According to “GMA,” the condition is “caused by a build-up of spinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain, which puts pressure on nerves that control the legs, bladder and cognitive function.”
Once he had a shunt placed in his head to redirect fluid to his abdominal cavity, something he will deal with the rest of his life, he got his career back.
"I am like a new man almost overnight," he said. "For five years, I couldn't even pick up a guitar -- I didn't have the strength or the coordination." Wagner is already back on the road, touring with a band in Denmark!
Watch the video above to see a 2012 interview with Wagner at the NAMM conference.