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Danny Bonaduce, the former star of "The Partridge Family" and host of radio's "The Danny Bonaduce Show," is set for brain surgery after revealing his hydrocephalus diagnosis.
In a recent interview with TMZ, the former child actor revealed he visited "hundreds of doctors" for a "mystery illness" that affected his speech, ability to walk and balance.
"I can't walk; currently, I just can't," he told the news outlet. "I'm never gonna run track, never gonna box again, but if I can get from here to my kitchen on my own, bravo!"
A former professional wrestler, Bonaduce, 63, was eventually diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a neurological condition sometimes referred to as "water on the brain."
The radio host told TMZ he is to scheduled to receive shunt surgery on Monday to relieve his symptoms.
Read on to learn more about hydrocephalus and take note of its signs and symptoms.
What is hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus is a neurological condition that occurs when excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) builds up in the brain. Your brain is protected by your skull, three layers of cushiony tissue called the meninges and CSF, a clear, water-like fluid. When CSF flows freely, it delivers important nutrients and chemicals from the blood, removes waste products and provides a protective cushion for your brain, according to Hydrocephalus Canada. However, when too much CSF accumulates, it causes the ventricles to swell, damaging the brain and its ability to process information.
How common is hydrocephalus?
It's estimated that 120,000 Canadians are living with hydrocephalus. According to the University of Saskatchewan's College of Medicine, Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) affects more than 1 in 200 adults over the age of 55. Additionally, there's a significant link between hydrocephalus and spina bifida. Hydrocephalus Canada estimates that up to 90 per cent of those with the condition also have spina bifida.
What causes hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus can be congenital, present at birth, or occur at any other time in a person's life. According to Brain Injury Canada, it can be caused by stroke, brain tumour, meningitis, intracranial bleeding, head injury and other unknown causes. Bonaduce, a former professional boxer and wrestler, told TMZ his earlier behaviours and activities could be factors to his hydrocephalus diagnosis. "I’ve done so many stupid things," said Bonaduce. "I took a guitar to the head. That hurt and was possibly the cause of all this."
Diagnoses among children often relate to brain bleeds resulting from prematurity, spina bifida, brain tumours, infection and head injury.
Signs and symptoms of hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus is oftentimes misdiagnosed as dementia, Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, as its symptoms may look similar. Common symptoms of acquired hydrocephalus in adults (infants, children and adolescents may present differently) include:
Nausea and vomiting
Loss of coordination, motor performance or balance problems
Lethargy and difficulty waking up from sleep
Impaired vision; blurred or double vision
Impaired cognitive skills
A decline in work or academic performance
Is there a cure for hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus is a chronic neurological condition — there is no cure. However, it can be controlled, and if treated early and appropriately, many people with hydrocephalus can go on to lead normal lives with few limitations.
As with everything to do with the human body, there are a few exceptions to that rule. In some instances, if hydrocephalus develops due to a blockage like a brain tumour, removing the blockage may allow the cerebral spinal fluid flow to return to normal.
How is hydrocephalus treated?
Hydrocephalus can be treated in a number of ways, but the most common form of treatment is the surgical placement of a shunt.
A shunt is a flexible piece of tubing that is attached to a valve that controls the flow of cerebral spinal fluid. The shunt drains excess CSF from the brain to another part of the body (most often the belly). Over 36,000 shunt surgeries are performed annually in the U.S. Hydrocephalus is the most common cause of brain surgery in children in Canada and the U.S.
The second most common treatment for hydrocephalus is Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV) surgery, an alternative to shunting.