A Chiari malformation, or Arnold-Chiari malformation, is a structural defect in the brain. Normally, the cerebellum rests in the space at the back of the skull. When the cerebellum protrudes into the foramen magnum (the opening to the spinal canal), this is called a Chiari malformation.
Most cases of Chiari malformation (CM) are thought to be caused by defective fetal development of the brain and spine. CM can also be acquired later in life because of injury, infection, poisoning, or anything that drains cerebrospinal fluid.
A Chiari malformation (CM) may cause headaches, dizziness, vision problems, insomnia, depression, or more serious conditions. For instance, CM may impede the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, causing it to build up in the brain; this is know as hydrocephalus, and it cause affect mental function as well as the shape of the skull. Many people, however, do not even know that they have a CM, as it is asymptomatic.
Auto accidents and other traumatic injuries can cause asymptomatic CM to become symptomatic. A major medical study by Dr. Thomas Milhorat, MD, found that people with asymptomatic or mild CM typically have an underdeveloped cranial cavity and a crowded hindbrain. Auto accidents and other injuries can easily exacerbate this delicate condition by pushing the cerebellum farther into the foramen magnum, causing a CM symptoms to appear.
The World Chiari Malformation Association has published several trauma testimonials in which people describe suffering from Chiari malformation after a car accident. Here are a few of the stories:
“I was at a stop sign on November 3, 1995 when I was hit head-on by another car. Since then I have had all sorts of problems. Before my accident I was very healthy, working out every day etc. Now I have Arnold Chiari Malformation. Unfortunately, I had to go through 6 neurosurgeons in order to find one that specialized in ACM. I have had six surgeries since my accident…four of which were for ACM and SM. I deal with chronic pain every day now since this accident.”
“I was diagnosed with chiari during the summer of 1986. I had few symptoms at that time, and a neurologist told me then that if the chiari ever became truly troublesome, then surgery would be an option . In December 1996 , I was a passenger in a car that was stopped to make a left turn. We were rear-ended by a car going around 50 mph , and the back of my head struck the seat/ head rest. Within several hours, my symptoms got worse and continued to worsen for several weeks. Headaches and dizzy spells became constant along with many other symptoms commonly associated with ACM. One afternoon I passed out several times in my yard while trying to get into my house. A friend drove me to a nearby hospital where I was admitted and observed for several days. After seeing several specialists and undergoing many tests, it was discovered that my tonsillar herniation (ACM), which was 5 – 8 mm before the accident, was now 8 – 12 mm. It was explained to me by a world renowned ACM expert that my tonsils had herniated further due to the head blow.”
“In 1994, I was a passenger in a car that ran a red light, hitting another car head on. I was checked out at the local ER and sent home, with mild head injury, whiplash etc. The next day I woke up sick to my stomach, my left arm was numb, and I began having severe headaches and neck pain. After 2 years of suffering with symptoms, the doctor finally sent me to a neurologist where is was determined I had partial complex seizures. I spent one week at the neurology unit of University of Penn. Medical center. The doctors there confirmed that my seizures were caused by the car accident. I continued to have other symptoms so an MRI was done, finding the ACM. I had my first decompression in March 1997. We were not aware that ACM can be started by a trauma, although our neurosurgeon did say it is very possible. Before my accident, I had went to the doctors only a few times over a seven year period. I was very healthy, never had anything wrong. After the accident, in a two year period, I had seen the doctor over 60 times.”
Suffering from a Chiari malformation after an auto accident can be a painful, frightening experience that will likely require many doctor visits and surgeries. To make matters worse, it can be difficult to prove in a court of law that Chiari malformation symptoms were caused by an auto accident.
If you suffer from a brain injury due to an auto accident or other personal injury, you need an experienced attorney who understands your condition as well as the law. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.