Redbridge SERC

Hydrocephalus / Hydrocephaly


  • Inside everyone's brain there is a clear fluid called cerebrospinal fluid or CSF for short.
  • The CSF is made inside spaces in the brain called “ventricles”. The CSF flows out over the surface of the brain and down the channel in the middle of the backbone (spinal column) to bathe and protect the brain and spinal cord. Then the fluid is absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Hydrocephalus happens when this fluid cannot drain away into the bloodstream because the normal pathways are blocked. As the fluid is still being made by the brain, the build up of CSF will cause pressure to rise inside the brain and this can lead to damage.
  • Hydrocephalus is known as water on the brain.

Fact sheets

Training / Help

Newbridge Outreach is happy to provide training about Spina Bifida / Hydrocephaly and the associated aspects of the condition.

Your School Nurse can all be contacted if help is required with Care Protocol.

Students will have link professionals in the hospital they attend.

Learning Aids

Please offer me a seat badge

Please offer me a seat badge

Available from:

TfL have recently introduced a badge to help Adults and Children who may have difficulty standing/ waiting on all TfL transport. It is designed to be supportive for hidden disabilities and medical conditions. The badges are free- you do notneed…




Line drawings showing hypermobile joints.
Full Size image

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the warning signs of a blocked shunt?
    • Sudden headaches
    • Vomiting
    • Seizures
    • Raised temperature
    • Unusual lethargy
    • Change in vision
  • How is Hydrocephalus caused?
    • Brain haemorrhage
    • Premature birth
    • Cysts or brain tumours
    • Spina Bifida
    • Cerebral palsy
    • and in some cases the cause is unknown.
  • What are the educational implications for students who have Hydrocephalus?
    • focus and attention
    • thinking and working independently- can become dependent upon verbal prompts
    • short term memory - verbal instructions, listening, remembering facts eg additon/ substraction, specific literacy difficulties
    • easily distracted
    • poor spatial awareness
    • difficulty with writing on lines, bar charts, graphs, copying from the board
    • symmetry
    • recognsing pattern
    • difficulty generalising skills learnt in other areas
    • benefits from pre and over learning
    • literal interupretation of language
    • poor concept of passing of time.
    • poor fine motor skills


  • How is Hydrocephalus treated?
    • The focus of treatment will be to drain off the excess fluid by inserting a fine tube (called a shunt) inside one of the spaces in the brain making a small hole in the floor of one of the spaces (called a ventriculostomy).
    • Both procedures involve an operation, but students usually recover quickly and return to school relatively quickly.
    • Many students can have their first shunt inserted within the first few days of life.
  • Are there any things I need to consider when teaching a pupil with a shunt?
    • Shunts are often placed for life, and only need to be replaced due to growth or complications eg blockage
    • To protect the shunt, avoid contact sports, knocks to head etc
    • Possible signs of acute shunt blockage may include: 
vomiting, headache, dizziness, photophobia (sensitivity to light) and other visual disturbances, drowsiness and fits.
    • Possible signs of chronic shunt blockage may include: 
fatigue, general malaise, visual problems, behavioural changes, decline in academic performance, being just 'not right' from the carer's point of view.
    • If a shunt blockage is suspected, medical advice should be sought from your neuro-surgical unit within four hours of acute symptoms starting. 

Family Resources

Contact a family


A UK wide charity providing advice, information and support to parents of all disabled children. 

SNAP Essex Charity

01277 211300
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

SNAP charity is based in Essex. They have a really comprehensive resource library - books, toys, computer items. 

If you contact them, they will send you a directory of items they have in stock.