'Walk and Die' Syndrome Likely Killed Richardson

Head injury from ski fall caused delayed bleeding in the brain
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2009 6:51 AM CDT
'Walk and Die' Syndrome Likely Killed Richardson
Liam Neeson, right, and his wife Natasha Richardson arrive at a film festival in London in this October 2008 file photo. Richardson, 45, died Wednesday, March 18, 2009 in New York.   (AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File)

The head injury Natasha Richardson sustained in a skiing accident produced what doctors call "walk and die" syndrome, a UCLA neurologist tells the Los Angeles Times. Patients in such cases at first seem fine, walking and talking normally, but they swiftly deteriorate due to delayed bleeding from an artery in the brain, which can push the brain left or right and leak into the brainstem.

Such injuries are rare, "but they do occur, even in patients that have been evaluated by a CT scan," a neurosurgeon said. "That's why, when a person has a head injury, we like to observe them for 24 hours to make sure no delayed bleeding occurs." He added that a torn artery in the neck, which results in similar symptoms but tends to be more lethal, could have also felled Richardson. (More neurology stories.)

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