LARGO - Paula Keyser was busy registering people for the second annual walkathon at Shelter 1 in Largo Central Park the morning of September 3. Keyser, coordinator of the benefit for the Hydrocephalus Association, was joined by a number of volunteers who were handing out orange shirts imprinted with "Team Hydrocephalus 2006" to participants. Nearby, a clown by the name of Nurse Bandi Aid (otherwise known as Jenny Naegele, Health Information manager at All Children's Hospital) was entertaining the children in attendance.
Though the purpose of the walk around the park was to bring in funds for the Hydrocephalus Association's outreach programs, Keyser said she hoped it would also bring about an awareness of hydrocephalus, which is described in the dictionary as "an abnormal accumulation of fluid within the cranium, often causing enlargement of the head". Hundreds of thousands of Americans, from infants to seniors, are affected, Keyser noted. One of those is her husband, Mark. There is no cure and the only effective treatments are surgical. Mark has a shunt implanted in his head to allow for drainage of the fluid.
Hydrocephalus is often misdiagnosed, according to Keyser. Symptoms can resemble dementia. One man suffered disabling symptoms for 16 years before he finally was treated for what is known as Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH).
HUGS of Florida is the name of the local hydrocephalus support group, which is based in Largo. HUGS is a group of families brought together by Hydrocephalus with an Understanding of how important Gathering can be to help and give each other Support. For more information on HUGS or the Hydrocephalus Association, you may call (727) 538-9159.
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