Can acute trauma such as a car accident cause a Chiari Malformation?

December 15, 2011 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Can acute trauma such as a car accident cause a Chiari Malformation? Chiari I malformation is a condition where brain tissue protrudes into your spinal canal. If the skull is too small or misshaped, the brain is forced down into the spinal canal. The adulthood version usually starts occurring at the end of childhood, when the brain and skull are still growing. Symptoms from Chiari I are usually characterized by such things as headaches. These headaches are generally precipitated by coughing, sneezing, and straining. Even though headaches are the primary symptom,;other symptoms do exist. Neck pain that tends to spread down into the shoulders is also a common symptom of Chiari I formation. Many victims of Chiari 1 malformation also experience problems with balance and poor hand coordination. Blurred vision or double vision has also been linked to Chiari I malformation. Other symptoms can include dizziness and slurred speech. Lesser symptoms may include ringing in the ears, poor bladder control, chest pains, and abnormal breathing. It was previously believed that Chiari 1 Malformations were con genitive in nature and were in no way related to acute trauma. However, a new study out of the University of Toronto has linked whiplash mechanism injuries to Chairi I malformations. For purposes of that study, the accidents had to be minor injury type accidents as far as no head/skull fractures. This was the criteria used for the sample towards the study:
  1. The patient was asymptomatic from the Chiari I malformation and syringomyelia (if present) before the trauma.
  2. The trauma did not cause an identifiable structural neurological injury or an immediate onset of neurological deficit.
  3. Symptoms of the trauma were significant (concussion or whiplash).
  4. Neurological symptoms and signs attributable to the Chiari I malformation, with or without syringomyelia, developed within 6 months of the trauma.
  5. There was no other structural abnormality, disease, or previous neurosurgical intervention to account for the patient's symptoms.
  6. The symptoms of Chiari malformation were severe enough to warrant surgical treatment, and improved or stabilized postoperatively.
This study illustrated that it is possible to develop Chiari I formation from car accident like trauma. Litigation in effects to this is still in its early stages. The new benefits in MRI technology have made the diagnosis of Chiari I more prevelent. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we stay up to date on all the latest technologies and science to better serve our clients. All attorneys are responsible for and regularly read the newest medical journals and studies. To truly empathize and serve clients, attorneys must continually educate themselves with the latest research. As a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney, I have come across several Chiari 1 Malformation cases and this recent study helps illustrate how acute trauma can turn asymptomatic pathology into symptomatic issues. Traumatic brain injury cases make up a large portion of our practice and new literature and studies are surfacing on Chiari 1 Malformations. For more information on brain injury conditions and Chiair 1 Malformations, please check out our blog at


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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