STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (PIX11) — A former college baseball player from Staten Island thought the headaches he endured for all his life were ordinary despite experiencing them since elementary school.
“We just figured I suffered from migraines that a normal everyday person would suffer,” Daniel Sedutto said.
Doing what he loved, playing college baseball at Fairleigh Dickinson University made it worse.
“I always felt it after exerting myself excessively like screaming in the dugout cheering for teammates or just lifting weights with the team,” Sedutto added.
When the migraines became unbearable, he got an MRI scan of his brain at Staten Island University Hospital which determined he was born with a rare condition called Chiari malformation.
Dr. Ronit Gilad serves as chair of neurosurgery at the hospital.
“Patients with Chiari malformation are born without enough space in this area right here,” Gilad said as she pointed to the bottom of his skull. “The base of the skull is too small.”
The bottom of his skull could not house the bottom of his brain, known as the cerebellum, causing his brain to protrude an inch into the spinal canal.
“As you grow with time, just the wear and tear of activity and life, patients become more symptomatic,” Dr. Gilad said.
People born with this condition do not have enough cushioning, or cerebrospinal fluid, in the base of the skull, which is what causes the headaches, so surgery was needed for Sedutto.
“We actually drill off some of the bone of his skull base and we sew in a patch to basically create more space for that area,” Dr. Gilad said.
After six months of physical therapy, Sedutto was able to play baseball for his senior season.
“It felt amazing when I stepped back out on the field,” Sedutto added. “I felt the whole team behind me. On my first return, I got the last out of the game. The opposing team, Arcadia University, gave me a standing ovation at the field.”
He even earned the nickname ‘Zippy’ from his teammates because of the zipper-like scar on the back of his neck.
Sedutto is now a coach for the St. Joseph’s University baseball team in Brooklyn and ever since the surgery, he says he has not had any headaches… except for maybe after a night out.