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Health Spotlight: Correcting Chiari malformation

Health Spotlight: Correcting chiari malformation

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Headache, balance issues, dizziness, vomiting, and muscle weakness. It sounds like a bad hangover, but for thousands of people, these are the signs of a neurological disorder called Chiari malformation.

Many people suffer for years without a diagnosis. Now, one woman is on a mission to help others get the help they need.

From a sketch to a designer dress. This is Hannah Jane’s lifelong passion.

“I’m an artist and designer. I own a brand. It’s called “Art of Hannah Jane.” That is who I am.”

But who she was changed dramatically – without warning.

“I woke up with the spins,” said Hannah. “I had never experienced anything like that before.”

Doctors first told her she had vertigo, but the symptoms got worse.

“I threw up for two years straight, every day, if not, multiple times a day,” said Hannah. “I couldn’t feel my arms and legs most days.”

It took two years until Hannah Jane was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation. It’s where part of her brain extends out of the skull and into the spinal cord.

“It tends to block the flow of spinal fluid, up and down, between the compartment of the head and the spinal column.” said Dr. Colin Buchanan, a neurosurgeon with the Colorado Brain and Spine Institute

When medications didn’t help, doctors at the Colorado Brain and Spine Institute performed decompression surgery.

“We go into the back of the head and create more room for the spinal fluid to circulate around,” said Dr. Buchanan.

Hannah Jane did find relief from most of her symptoms. She still suffers from vertigo, but now, it’s manageable – allowing her to turn her passion into purpose.

“Creating has been a lifesaver to me, absolutely,” said Hannah. “It has been the only connection to myself amidst not feeling like myself.”

Doctors don’t know what causes Chiari malformation, but they believe it does have a genetic component and it tends to impact women more than men.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.