Intracranial hypotension brain injury
    August 29, 2018

    A delivery driver went to collect some very heavy equipment from a building site, but it had been left well away from the road and he needed help to lift it and move it to his van.  Sadly, the man who helped him couldn’t take the weight and dropped his end causing the driver to suffer an injury to mid to lower back as he took the full weight on his own.

    The driver suffered nagging pain in his back but was able to cope with it and went back to work.  However, over the next 8 months or so, he suffered increasingly severe head aches and stiffness in his neck.  He felt lightheaded and nauseous when standing up but much better when he lay down.

    After 8 months, he collapsed and was rushed to hospital.  He was found to have bleeding and swelling on the brain and a small leak somewhere in his spine.  The fluid (CSF) which fills the spinal cord had been slowly leaking out for months causing his brain to be sucked downwards; this in turn caused bleeding and swelling of the brain. This condition is known as intracranial hypotension, basically low pressure around the brain.

    2 “blood patches” were administered into the spinal column which plugged the tiny leak, and brain surgery was needed to release the blood and reduce the swelling.

    After that, he felt better physically although he still has back pain.  But he suffers from anger issues and other deficits similar to someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury. This has caused him to be unable to work and to rely heavily on his wife and family.  Their lives have been forever changed by what looked at first sight to be a minor back injury.

    The driver’s employers eventually accepted blame for the accident but argued that the leak of spinal fluid is usually something which occurs spontaneously and that, as it was discovered 8 months after the back injury, the 2 problems could not be related. The claim nearly went to trial but was settled shortly before for a very substantial sum.

    Such injuries are rare but, if you suffer from intracranial hypotension, it is worth thinking about whether it did just happen spontaneously or whether there might have been some trauma in recent months which might have caused the leak.

    Beth King
    August 2018

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