ENTERTAINMENT
01/17/2013 12:14 pm ET

Dick Wagner, Rock Star With 'Curable' Dementia, Back On Tour After Physical Battle

A rock guitarist and songwriter, who has worked with the likes of Aerosmith, Guns & Roses and Frank Sinatra, is back on tour again after an uphill battle with "curable" dementia.

Dick Wagner enjoyed life as a rock star, touring with some of the world's most famous musicians, but in 2007 everything changed when he suffered a stroke and a heart attack, reports ABC News. After waking up from a coma with a broken arm, his physical condition further deteriorated with mental fuzziness and an unusual gait. In 2011, Wagner was diagnosed with NPH, or normal pressure hydrocephalus, which has symptoms similar to dementia.

About 5 percent of dementia patients have NPH, which is correctable. The 70-year-old Wagner recuperated after a shunt was put in his head and is now back on tour in Denmark. "I am like a new man almost overnight," he told ABC News. "For five years, I couldn't even pick up a guitar -- I didn't have the strength or the coordination."

NPH is characterized as a buildup of spinal fluid in the brain that normally occurs in elderly people. The symptoms include cognitive impairment, difficulty walking, incontinence and memory loss, according to the Mayo Clinic, and the condition is difficult do diagnose. Treatment includes the placement of a shunt in the head to drain cerebrospinal fluid into the peritoneal cavity.

In his book, "Not Only Women Bleed," Wagner recounts how his health struggles left him disabled and "drying in the desert." But, courage and commitment helped him get his life back.

Wagner is perhaps best known for co-writing Alice Cooper's 1975 hit, "Welcome to My Nightmare." Over the course of his career, Wagner played guitar and written songs for Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Kiss, Lou Reed, Etta James, Rod Stewart, Ringo Starr, Tina Turner, Guns & Roses and Frank Sinatra. In 2010, he was honored by Gibson.com for one of the Top 50 Guitar Solos of All Time for his intro to Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane."

Check out Dick Wagner's interview (below) with The Musician Network from his first appearance at the National Association Music Merchants in 20 years.

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