THE mum of a teenager with a devastating brain condition today welcomed the launch of major new research into the illness.
Katie Williamson, 18, has a crippling affliction that causes a build-up of spinal fluid, putting pressure on her brain and triggering debilitating sight problems and migraines.
Doctors warned her when she was just 13 that she would have to undergo a series of operations in a bid to maintain her sight and halt the symptoms of Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) that had plagued her for months.
Now, the teenager and her family, from Biddick, Washington, have welcomed the launch of a new UK-wide project, spearheaded by the IIH UK charity, into the causes of the condition.
“It’s still at a very early stage, but we’re very pleased by the announcement,” said Katie’s mum, Michelle.
“There will be meeting and conferences early next year, which will see the release of further details, but it is a very positive move.”
The project will see the UK’s best medical experts, including neurologists and neuro-surgeons, investigate the illness, with the hope that the results will eventually lead to a cure.
“It will involve some of the best medical professionals in the UK,” said 48-year-old Michelle.
“It is the first study of its kind into the condition and, if successful, will help people around the world who have IIH.”
In 2008, surgeons inserted a lumbar, a shunt which drained the cerebrospinal fluid from Katie’s lower spine into her abdomen.
However, Katie was rushed into hospital after her headaches returned and surgeons inserted an intra-cranial pressure monitoring bolt into her skull to check on the fluid pressure.
“She is doing pretty good at the minute,” said Michelle. “She recently had to go into hospital for further surgery, but she is getting on with things.”
However, the student at East Durham College, Houghall, has refused to allow the condition to hold her back.
As well as being a keen horserider and swimmer, Katie is a junior representative of the IIH UK charity.
“You just have to stay strong and get on with it,” said Katie.
“At the end of the day, it has to happen to someone, and I don’t think I could cope if it happened to someone I cared about.”
For more information about the condition, visit www.iih.org.uk or www.iihsupport.org