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June 23, 2017

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US doctor diagnoses former president with brain disorder

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- An U.S.-based physician has diagnosed former President Chen Shui-bian with an incurable neurological disorder best managed in a home environment, said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

The U.S.-based Samuel Chou (周烒明), a veteran neurologist who sits on the board of the ALS & Neuromuscular Research Foundation, evaluated Chen on Jan. 16 at the request of the patient's private medical team.

Alongside the medical team, DPP lawmaker Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) formally released results of Chou's assessment at the Legislative Yuan on Friday.

According to the report, Chen's recent urinary incontinence, dementia and gait disturbance are three classic symptoms of normal pressure hydrocephalus (常壓性水腦症).

Normal pressure hydrocephalus is a neurological disorder in which excess fluid builds up in the brain, causing permanent damage to nerve cells. The condition can be managed but not cured. Without treatment, symptoms often worsen and can lead to death.

Chou's report urged "immediate homecare" after shunt surgery to alleviate symptoms and to curb further deterioration.

Medical Parole

At the Legislative Yuan, Chen Chi-mai urged President Ma Ying-jeou to grant Chen medical parole so that he can be transferred to a home environment.

"President Ma, the professional consensus is that homecare is the best course of treatment. Please allow the Taipei Veterans General Hospital to test out this option for Chen Shui-bian," said the lawmaker at the caucus press room yesterday.

Kuo Cheng-deng (郭正典) of Chen's medical team said the brain condition may have been triggered by long-term light exposure and sleep deprivation at Taipei Prison.

Chen Shui-bian, who is serving a 20-year sentence for graft and related charges, was transferred to the Taipei Veterans General Hospital last September to be treated for clinical depression and other conditions.

Kuo, who directs the division of medical research at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, said his hospital should immediately run its own diagnostic tests for normal pressure hydrocephalus.


Later on Friday, another physician at Taipei Veterans General Hospital said that the probability of normal pressure hydrocephalus is "very low."

During tests for Parkinson's disease earlier this year, Chen was also evaluated for normal pressure hydrocephalus, said Chou Yuan-hwa (周元華), a psychiatrist and member of Chen's hospital team.

Taipei Veterans General Hospital found the likelihood for this diagnosis very low, though not negligible, he said.

Pressed for comment on a home transfer for Chen, the physician said medical parole is at the discretion of the Ministry of Justice.

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