Can effects from a bump to the head be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 16, 2016
Coachlew asked...

OK, my wife severely bumped her head on the outdoor AC unit about 9 years ago. Approximately 3 months after that she was diagnosed as having Alzheimer's and was put on Aricept and Namenda. The only thing she has that is similar to Alzheimers is she repeats herself and has a little trouble remembering current issues. She was given tests like spelling words backwards, adding/multiplying/dividing and asking her questions such as who the President is, where she lives, her birthday, and she passed those test and missed only one question and that was what county do you live. So my question is, can a severe bump on the head be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's?

Expert Answers

Ladislav Volicer, M.D., Ph.D., is recognized as an international expert on advanced dementia care. He is a courtesy full professor at the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, and visiting professor at the Third Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty-five years ago, he established one of the first dementia special care units.

Traumatic brain injury may lead to some symptoms that are similar to symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. However, the biggest difference is in the course of the symptoms. Symptoms of traumatic brain injury get usually better or do not change, while symptoms of Alzheimer's disease get worse. If your wife's did not get worse since the brain injury, she most likely does not have Alzheimer's disease. However, brain injury is one condition that increases the chance of developing Alzheimer's disease later.