HI. Saw your post and i just wrote the other post below , yesterday. I decided to copy and past and add a few extra details. I don't know much about ventricular shunts, but TBI respond to hyperbaric. If I may ask , how long ago was your dad's injury, was it vehicular or aneursym etc? What was the trauma from? Is the shunt considered permanent or just temporary? Is his blood pressure stable and or is on other medications? Any details you give would help.
I used Aricept for awhile. My doctor said it helped, it didn't seem to me. Gave me digestive/stomach pains. Was later put on a different one Reminyl and taken off that one because 15 people had died on that. But honestly the biggest change occurred with hyperbaric. Anything you can do to encourage cognitive rehabilitation, cognition and home computer use of cognitive therapy structured to tbi patients will help. Diet is critical. There are additional supplements that aid the brain. Reading and crosswords will keep his brain active if he can focus even ten minutes at time. TV puts the brain to sleep. Exercise as he is able, 10 minutes a day and build on it. Have him do mental gymnastics, calculations 2x2= ?
Start simple and progress. See where he is at. I had alot of doctors tell me hyperbaric only helps the doctor who sells it. THAT IS NOT TRUE and I don't sell it. See a real specialist like one of the ones below who believe in hyperbaric, if for nothing else a phone or personal consult. You have to be strong and be an advocate for your father. Good choices will spare you wasting time and energy and money on the wrong choices and wrong people. Hyperbaric is considered alternative and most doctors don't know anything about it or write it off as not being useful. The two MD below are among the top in the US. I am sure there are probably others that might be good but I haven't heard of them. Have you ever bought an item that was not quite what you needed and then had to go back out and get the exact one you needed? I have learned the hard way, don't take just any physician, don't get just any consult. Maybe you have to when you are in emergency situation, but once the patient is stabilized you have choices.
I believe there is a great deal of hope for your father. Have faith, don't go it alone, mobilize support from friends, church social service organizations. Don't do this alone, you could burn out and that is last thing you want. Learn to take breaks for all the caregivers involved.
Best of luck to you and write back if you have questions.
1. The omega 3's would be useful as well as including sardines salmon etc in her diet because the oil helps diminsh the inflammatory response that is going on in her brain and additionally will help reduce blood pressure if that is an issue. You can get good fish oil from a company called Carlson located in arlington heights illinois or order krill oil at mercola.com
2. Hyperbaric oxygen is the way to go if you have the funds. Look up abilitycamp.com. It is canada but more affordable than US and the room was practically free with treatment so you are paying for the treatment, get a room while undergoing treatment and only have to provide for food for yourself.
Oxygen is not covered in USA under insurance because it is considered off label.
Some excellent providers of hyperbaric and medical consultation in the USA: include the two following physicians:
Dr. Perlmutter another specialist that has done extensive work with the brain and has a private hyperbaric treatment center attached to his clinic.
He has a number of formulated vitamins and powders and books that he feels aids the brain. Vinpocetine sp? and hyperizine sp? are suppose to be useful in addition to phosphotidylserine intake. I know NOW vitamins also has a brain formula that might be useful.
3. It is imperative that her diet be really good. Get the junk out the good stuff in. Salad raw foods etc to help heal her brain and help her repair her system. No diet drinks , chips , hydrogenated crackers etc, will make the body harder to work at healing.
4. Neurofeedback. Can do wonders but this should follow as part of a program of cognitive therapy and should definitely follow after the hyperbaric. Hyperbaric can perform miracles. Hyperbaric will require numerous treatments hence the earlier use of the term fundraiser. Brain injury or cerebral palsy patients sometimes go through dozens if not more than hundred or so treatments. It is worth seeing one of the above practitioners and know what they think and if they have treated earlier or similar cases to your aunts.
5. Computer games. start out simple like with the game collapse or diamond mine on yahoo or bejeweled. The brain will respond to simple stimulus . Treat like a child starting out very simply. Gradually progress to other games like tetras. There are even better games out now that involve playing a guitar or boxing the air if arm movement or body movement has been impaired . These aid in developing new neural network pathways.
6. play Mozart and some of the other classical artists used for baby brain geniuses( I think that was a cd) music is suppose to encourage some form of development.Affects the brain wave pattern.
7. you can buy cognitive rehab software for single computer. Can be pricey. Don't know much about it, but it is designed for this.
8. physical activity, walks in the sun. If she uses her left hand , make her practice brushing hair with the right. If you walk down your street to the right, go left. Alternating and changing things frequently wakes the brain up say , whoa what is happening, pay attention. Good for developing neural networks.
9. Have her read if possible small excerpt or piece of news and then relate it back to you . Encourage interaction and support.
10. Find a brain injury support group in your area. Find out who the good docs are locally and what treatments people have tried.
11. Find a church or other religious affiliate to pray for her. I have read many miracles about the power of prayer by a group to help someone. You will need a large congregation. If you don't belong, submit a prayer request online or at churches, hospital chaplains , unitarian etc, even curezone.
Lastly take a deep breath in and let it out and say to yourself , we can do this . Don't try to do it all yourself, call in as many extended family or friends of hers or yours as possible.
If I had to give you a short list of the priority to do these items I would do the following:
1. hyperbaric and or hyperbaric consult with a brain specialist. Not just any brain specialist but one extensively familiar with the amazing feats of hyperbaric and recovery from acquired brain injury. You have the two names above, start there IMHO
2. Diet. Make it healthy. Include fish oil and other supplements. Exercise if possible as that helps to build new brain cells .
3. cognitive therapy program of some sort (neurofeedback, cognitive computer program)
Just for the record, I am not affliated with any person listed here. I went through a really bad trauma myself. So I know what is happening in a sense.
People after brain injuries may be different in subtle and or profound ways. I miss who I use to be , but I am grateful for the miracles and blessing in my life. I am not sure what the extent your aunt's damage is or her prognosis, but the recommendations above can make her better.