How Hydrocephalus Causes Cerebral Palsy


Sometimes we look to our Facebook Page for ideas on what parents and the public are looking to better understand about CP. A common topic that has come up is how hydrocephalus causes Cerebral Palsy. Hydrocephalus itself is a less understood topic, and so determining its connection with a complex condition like Cerebral Palsy can be understandably difficult.

Let’s go through the basics on hydrocephalus and Cerebral Palsy:

What is hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus is a term that breaks down as hydro (water) and cephalus (loosely meaning ‘head’). As such, hydrocephalus was formerly described as ‘water on the brain,’ though the fluid within the head is not water but, instead, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid is intended to provide nutrition and support to the brain but, when it does not absorb properly, instead builds up within the skull. When it accumulates enough, the fluid causes the malleable skull to stretch, causing the extended shape that marks the condition.

When this fluid accumulates, a range of conditions can emerge, including mental disability, convulsions and tunnel vision.

How does hydrocephalus occur? There are two types of hydrocephalus: acquired and congenital. For congenital hydrocephalus, the problem developed due to a wide variety of malformations or genetic conditions during the pregnancy. However, for acquired hydrocephalus, the build-up of fluid is due to a hemorrhage, an infection like meningitis, trauma during delivery or after birth, as well as tumors and cysts.

How is hydrocephalus treated? There are various ways in which the fluid on the brain can be addressed, most typically a shunt used to drain it from the skull.

How does hydrocephalus cause Cerebral Palsy? This extended build-up of fluid, if left untreated, not only stretches the skull but also puts pressure on the brain itself. This ongoing pressure can, in turn, either damage the brain or cut off healthy flow of oxygen and blood to the brain. In turn, this brain injury becomes the basis of a Cerebral Palsy diagnosis.

If your child is facing challenges associated with hydrocephalus, including Cerebral Palsy, we welcome you to contact us at (800) 692-4453 or through our online form. We are happy to provide parents a wide number of FREE resources aimed to help children with Cerebral Palsy overcome challenges associated with their condition and are available to speak, Monday through Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM. We hope to hear from you soon!