Dandy-Walker Syndrome

Disease database

Dandy-Walker Syndrome is a rare congenital brain malformation that affects the development of the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain responsible for coordinating movement. This condition is characterized by an enlargement of the skull, seizures, developmental delay, lack of muscle coordination, and vision problems. While there is no known cure for Dandy-Walker Syndrome, early intervention and supportive care can greatly improve the quality of life for individuals with this condition.

Enlargement of the Skull

One of the key features of Dandy-Walker Syndrome is the enlargement of the skull. This occurs due to the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, which puts pressure on the skull and causes it to expand. The enlarged skull can lead to a variety of symptoms, including headaches, vomiting, and difficulty with balance.

To alleviate the symptoms associated with the enlargement of the skull, doctors may recommend the use of a shunt. A shunt is a thin tube that is surgically placed in the brain to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid and relieve pressure. Regular monitoring and adjustments may be necessary to ensure the shunt is functioning properly.


Seizures are another common symptom of Dandy-Walker Syndrome. These seizures can vary in severity and may present as subtle staring spells or more pronounced convulsions. It is important for individuals with Dandy-Walker Syndrome to receive appropriate medical treatment for seizures, as uncontrolled seizures can further impact their development and overall well-being.

Anticonvulsant medications are often prescribed to manage seizures in individuals with Dandy-Walker Syndrome. These medications work by stabilizing the electrical activity in the brain and reducing the frequency and intensity of seizures. Regular follow-up with a neurologist is essential to monitor the effectiveness of the medication and make any necessary adjustments.

Developmental Delay

Developmental delay is a hallmark feature of Dandy-Walker Syndrome. Children with this condition may experience delays in reaching developmental milestones such as sitting, crawling, and walking. They may also have difficulties with speech and language development.

Early intervention services play a crucial role in supporting the development of children with Dandy-Walker Syndrome. These services may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. These therapies aim to improve muscle strength and coordination, enhance fine motor skills, and promote communication abilities.

Lack of Muscle Coordination

Individuals with Dandy-Walker Syndrome often exhibit a lack of muscle coordination, also known as ataxia. This can affect their ability to perform tasks that require precise movements, such as writing, buttoning clothes, or tying shoelaces.

Physical therapy is an essential component of the treatment plan for individuals with Dandy-Walker Syndrome. Physical therapists can work with individuals to improve their balance, coordination, and overall motor skills. They may also recommend assistive devices, such as braces or walkers, to enhance mobility and independence.

Vision Problems

Vision problems are another common feature of Dandy-Walker Syndrome. These problems can range from mild to severe and may include issues with visual acuity, depth perception, and eye movement control.

Regular eye examinations are important for individuals with Dandy-Walker Syndrome to monitor their vision and address any potential issues. Glasses or other visual aids may be prescribed to improve visual acuity. In some cases, vision therapy may be recommended to enhance eye coordination and strengthen visual skills.


Dandy-Walker Syndrome is a complex condition that affects various aspects of an individual’s development and functioning. While there is no cure for this syndrome, early intervention and supportive care can make a significant difference in the lives of those affected. By addressing the symptoms associated with Dandy-Walker Syndrome, such as the enlargement of the skull, seizures, developmental delay, lack of muscle coordination, and vision problems, individuals can lead fulfilling lives and reach their full potential.

It is important for individuals with Dandy-Walker Syndrome to work closely with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including neurologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and ophthalmologists. This team can provide comprehensive care and support tailored to the specific needs of each individual.

While the journey may present challenges, individuals with Dandy-Walker Syndrome have the potential to achieve remarkable milestones and make meaningful contributions to their communities. With the right support and resources, they can thrive and lead fulfilling lives.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
Add a comment