Legendary coach announces she has Alzheimer's

August 23, 2011

News that’s sad, yet strangely hopeful, came from the world of sports

Pat Summitt

today. Pat Summitt, the legendary woman’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee (UT), announced that she has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Summitt, who is only 59, has more than 1,000 career wins and has won eight national titles with the UT Lady Vols.

Early onset Alzheimer’s disease has been found to have a genetic component, and Summitt has had family members who have suffered from the disease.

The hopeful part – she doesn’t plan to retire. In a video statement, she said that with help from her coaching staff and doctors, she would continue on “as long as the Lord lets” her. It seems to me that she is sending a sign that life doesn’t end with a diagnosis. And good on her for that!

Although there is still no cure, more treatments are being found, and researchers, including our physician partners at Washington University School of Medicine, are gaining more understanding of Alzheimer’s. For instance, see how Washington University is advancing the knowledge of the genetics of early onset Alzheimer’s. http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/11867.aspx

For Pat Summitt and the millions of other Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s, a cure can’t come soon enough. In the meantime, we salute her courage and dignity and wish her all the best in her fight against this devastating disease.

-Kathryn Holleman

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Category: Neurology & Neurosurgery, Research

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