Lewy Body Disease?

The son and daughter of the patient bring her to the movement disorder specialist with a provisional diagnosis of Lewy Body Disease. Frederic Lewy gave his name to the bits of protein he found in the cytoplasm of cells throughout the brain in the early 1900s. The illness is characterized by dementia, fluctuations in cognition- attention, alertness and thinking ability from day to day, and Parkinsonism.

Lewy Body Disease might have made a more simple patient case. The actual patient had a history of high blood pressure, neurosurgery to correct a potentially fatal aneurysm, which Wikipedia defines as a “blood-filled dilation (balloon-like bulge) of a blood vessel caused by disease or weakening of the vessel wall.” Neuroradiology discovered a tumor on her cerebellum while performing an MRI to ascertain the state of the aneurysm. The children of the patient noted she had trouble finding the appropriate words for objects, following surgery, an observation that coincides with an aneurysm on the left side of the brain, the language center. After surgery, patients routinely receive Dilantin, prophylactically, to avoid seizures caused by minute scarring of cortical tissue. The patient never took the medication and suffered a seizure in the presence of her 85-year-old husband. The children also reported an incident in which the patient, “went crazy” after her medications were changed. Though the craziness subsided with new drugs, she still suffered from significant mental changes, for example she could not report her correct age.

With all her troubles, the children of the patient commented she was in good health and rarely needs medical attention. On physical examination, the specialist noted tremor in her left hand and arm with less involvement on the right side. He felt some rigidity, more on the left than right, when the patient was distracted by performing a concurrent activity- in this case; she tapped her palm on her thigh. Parkinsonism also appeared as decreasing amplitude in repeated finger to thumb tapping. Of note also were brisk reflexes and upward going toes- a Babinski sign indicative of brain disease, specifically damage to the corticospinal tracts. The patient felt incapable of independent walking, so the physician gauged her standing and balance skills. Without support, she could stand with feet touching, though the left side of her body twitched noticeably. With her eyes closed, she stood considerably less still and when jostled she lost balance quickly.

The patient complained most about the tremor on the left side of her body. This symptom is what the specialist addressed, by recommending a medication that successfully quells tremor that would not interact with her other medications. To complicate matters a bit more, the doctor learned the patient refuses to take any medications given to her by her husband, with whom she lives. The patient fears he is trying to kill her. For this reason, an independent person must visit the home bringing the necessary drugs.

When the dilemma unfolded, the physician commented Medicare pays for home health to dispense medications. He wrote a prescription for this service, as well as for physical therapy. The patient left the office on the arm of her son, and was clearly unstable with tremor rocking the left side of her torso.

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