A Sad Farewell to a Rock Legend and HA Advocate: Dick Wagner

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Dick Wagner at Detroit Hydrocephalus Association WALKIt is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of Dick Wagner from respiratory failure following a cardiac procedure two weeks earlier. He was a rock legend, a gentleman living with NPH and advocating for awareness, and a friend of HA.

“On behalf of the board of directors and staff of the Hydrocephalus Association, I offer condolences to the family and friends of Dick Wagner, the maestro of rock, a friend of our organization and a supporter of our cause,” said Dawn Mancuso, CEO of the Hydrocephalus Association.

In addition to being a musician, composer and author, Wagner was a fighter, who had faced many health challenges over the years.  In 2010, Wagner was diagnosed with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH), a chronic and incurable medical condition caused by an excess accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain.  NPH, also known as “treatable dementia,” primarily strikes older adults and is often misdiagnosed because some symptoms, such as memory loss, incontinence and difficulty walking, are similar to those of other conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s. Such was the case with Wagner, who suffered with NPH for eight years before being accurately diagnosed and properly treated with the placement of a shunt in his brain, which enabled him to resume his music career.

“Dick was passionate about his music and passionate about sharing his experience with NPH. He wanted the world to know about this condition so that other people would get the help they need and not suffer for years with this debilitating condition, as he did,” explained Mancuso.  “Dick will be missed for his music, his unquenchable spirit and for his support of our cause.”

Many members of our community had the opportunity to meet Wagner and share their experiences with NPH with him when he traveled around the country for his book tour, NOT ONLY WOMEN BLEED, Vignettes from the Heart of a Rock Musician. Wagner also served as the celebrity spokesperson at our 2013 Detroit Hydrocephalus Association WALK.

The Hydrocephalus Association will pay tribute to Wagner in October at its Vision Dinner in New York City.  The organization will also recognize the contributions of the late Dr. Salomon Hakim, whose research 50 years ago led to the proper identification of normal pressure hydrocephalus as a distinct and treatable medical condition and who dedicated his career to advancements in diagnosis and treatment of hydrocephalus.

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