Pat Summitt

For such a strong figure, Pat Summitt was feeling almost helpless.

Months of erratic behavior had left Tennessee women’s basketball coach bewildered, scared and asking herself “What’s wrong with me?”

Summitt went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in May. She underwent a series of tests and received a stunning answer. The diagnosis was early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.

Her initial reaction to learning she had a progressive condition that could impair her mental acuity was one of anger and denial. Since then, she’s moved forward in more Summitt-like fashion, formulating a plan involving medication and mental activities, such as reading and doing puzzles at night before going to sleep. She’s also taken a hopeful stance about her future.

The 59-year-old Summitt, who has 1,071 career victories and has led UT to eight national championships, is determined to continue coaching and is planning for her 38th season at UT. She has the support of the University administration.

– Reported by Dan Fleser of GoVolsExtra.com.

Dementia is the loss of mental functions — such as thinking, memory, and reasoning — that is severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily functioning. Dementia is not a disease itself, but rather a group of symptoms that are caused by various diseases or conditions. Symptoms can also include changes in personality, mood, and behavior. In some cases, the dementia can be treated and cured because the cause is treatable. Examples of this include dementia caused by substance abuse (illicit drugs and alcohol), combinations of prescription medications, and hormone or vitamin imbalances. In some cases, although the person may appear to have dementia, a severe depression can be causing the symptoms. This is known as pseudo-dementia (false dementia) and is highly treatable. In most cases, however, a true dementia cannot be cured.

– According to WebMD