Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday: Hydrocephalus Awareness

In continued recognition of hydrocephalus awareness month, through the rest of September, I encourage our hydranencephaly families to find much inspiration and hope in how far the campaign has come. Resources and information available on hydrocephalus have increased greatly over the course of the past half century, from a few lines of information in a medical textbook to an entire month devoted to it's awareness, and there is more work to being done. 

Approximately 1 million individuals of every age are affected by hydrocephalus, with an estimated one in 500 congenital cases reported. 

Surprisingly, the termed "father of medicine" Hippocrates, was the first physician to document and treat what was and is often called "water on the brain". Greeks are reported to have treated hydrocephalus by wrapping pieces of bark around an individuals' head, while many other individuals involved in early studies of neurology through history had treatments and scientific evidence of their own. You can read more in the article from MedScape "History of Hydrocephalus and its Treatment."

Hydrocephalus is as common as Down Syndrome and more common than Spina Bifida or brain tumors.

Many cases of hydrocephalus result in a later diagnosis of hydranencephaly; the opposite in diagnoses often occurs as well with a hydran diagnosis being dispelled upon placement of a shunt.
the affected brain can be hidden by severe hydrocephalus as it is pushed to the inner walls of the cranial cavity
image courtesy of
With persistence of the affected community in exploring treatment options and focusing on the possibilities that exist for those given a diagnosis of hydrocephalus, research continues and the overall prognosis has improved considerably. No longer are individuals institutionalized and maintained with little to no quality of life in group homes, institutions, and even put on display in circus freak shows. But the work is not complete and awareness remains essential to save the lives of those across the globe who deserve a chance.

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