PANAMA CITY — For one local patient, it took several years of pain and headaches before she was able to get relief.
Tina Bowden suffered from a rare disorder known as Chiari 1 Malformation. Her symptoms included daily headaches, neck pain, dizziness, foggy thinking and poor concentration. She suffered for many years before getting an MRI, which uncovered her condition in 2006.
Her story is being highlighted this week in recognition of Brain Awareness Week, which runs March 14-20. The week is a global campaign to increase public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. Every March, Brain Awareness Week unites the efforts of organizations worldwide in a weeklong celebration of the brain.
|Patient Treated For Rare Brain Condition|
“It took a long time for us to diagnose because everyone has headaches,” Bowden said.
Bowden had a structural problem at the base of her skull where the lower portion of her brain protruded into the spinal column, causing pressure against the spinal cord and causing the painful symptoms. The condition is something people are born with and symptoms tend to occur as individuals age.
“I had headaches really bad, poor concentration and I felt like I was in a fog all the time,” Bowden said.
After the MRI, medical professionals monitored the condition until they felt it was time to take more aggressive action. In September, Bowden got relief from her symptoms when Dr. Douglas Stringer performed a procedure to widen the opening between the spinal cord and the brain, therefore alleviating pressure.
“If left untreated, spinal fluid could build up in your brain,” Stringer said. “If the brain is wedged in, spinal fluid builds up in your brain and you can die.”
Bowden was in the intensive care unit for nine days, but she was able to return to work two weeks after being discharged from the hospital, and she is currently symptom-free.
“I am basically headache-free,” Bowden said. “I used to have a lot of pain behind my right eye and it progressed so much that it made it hard to work.”
Although it took Bowden many years before getting treated, Stringer said time can be crucial.
“If you have trouble speaking, numbness in arms or legs, it’s not something you should wait on,” Stringer said. “These warning signs go away in a few seconds, but they should be checked. They are red flags; 75 percent of people that have strokes have warning strokes.”
Stringer said parents of younger children should be aware of the dangers of head injuries, especially the possibility of repeated head injuries in the case of some sports.
“Protect kids with helmets,” he said.
He also stressed those individuals who start suffering from headaches where there is no previous history or if it’s a different type of headache to get checked.
“Your brain controls all your function, and abnormalities of your sense organs means you need to have it checked,” Stringer said. “Don’t put off the investigation.”