PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The news that basketball coach Pat Summit has early onset Alzheimer’s dementia came as quite a shock. Of course, anyone who is 59 years of age and develops dementia is not considered a routine problem. But I was greatly impressed by the fact that she openly discussed the condition with her team and made preparations to have coaches help her as the condition worsens.

There is still a stigma associated with Alzheimer’s as there is with many disorders of the brain. We have difficulty understanding problems like dementia anxiety and depression, possibly because we are afraid that these conditions could affect us at any time. But neurologic problems and psychological issues are no different than heart disease or musculoskeletal injury. They are examples of something going wrong with our body.

The fact that coach Summit is sharing her battle is ultimately worth far more to most people than all her basketball victories combined. I wish her the best in this very personal battle and know that she is an inspiration for many.

Reported By Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio Medical Editor

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