Panama City- NewsChannel 7 met with neurologist Dr. Sean Orr Tuesday at Bay Medical Center as he treated one of his patients suffering from hydrocephalus.
The neurological disorder characterized by water on the brain has kept him busy in his short five months at the hospital with upwards of 130 cases of it. So what's causing such a spike in this potentially crippling disease? Dr. Orr said age is a major factor.
"Particularly in Florida we see a lot of retirees. That is the age group that is prone to developing hydrocephalus," said Orr.
And although not fully proven yet, he said genetics may play a role. Diagnosing it also isn't easy. With symptoms like memory loss and loss of balance, Orr said hydrocephalus often mimics alzheimer's or parkinson's, and not until recent years have doctors been able to better detect the differences.
"Testing of the pressure inside the brain and removing the pressure is one of the important tests that we do," said Dr. Orr.
Orr told NewsChannel 7 as baby boomers continue to age and with advances in medical technology he expects hydrocephalus cases locally and nationwide to rise. Left untreated the disease can be deadly, but he said there's no need to panic.
"Either alzheimer's or normal pressure hyrdocephalus develop over many years so there's no rush to get in the hospital. But it is a good idea if there's any question to see a neurologist to have the evaluation done or a neurosurgeon as well," said Orr.