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Supporting Children with Medical
and Mental Health Needs at School


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Hydrocephalus is a build-up of fluid on the brain. This can put pressure on the brain and cause damage. 

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Causes of hydrocephalus

  • Congenital hydrocephalus means a baby is born with the condition. 
  • Acquired hydrocephalus happens after birth and can affect people of any age. It may be caused by bleeding in the brain which can happen after a traumatic head injury. Children can also develop hydrocephalus due to a tumour or infection in the brain.

Symptoms of hydrocephalus

Added pressure on the brain can cause severe headaches. Other symptoms can include: nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, problems with balance and motor skills, double vision and squinting. Some children may also experience changes in personality, loss of developmental abilities (like speaking or walking) and memory loss. 

Treatment for hydrocephalus

The standard treatment for hydrocephalus is a shunt where a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) is placed in the brain to drain extra fluid down to the abdominal cavity, heart, or a space around the lungs, where the fluid is absorbed into the bloodstream. 

Supporting students with hydrocephalus

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Working with parents / carers

  • Sudden changes or deterioration in behaviour may indicate medical problems with a shunt. contact parents / carers immediately. 
  • Meet with parents/carers to devise an Individual Healthcare Plan. 

Learning support

  • Help students establish good learning routines using visual prompts.
  • Break down tasks into smaller chunks to help with processing information. 
  • Give one or two step instructions or write down if more steps are required. 
  • Give out printed homework instructions do not rely on rushed verbal instructions at the end of the lesson.

More information

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HOPE (Hospital Organisation of Pedagogues in Europe)