Meningitis and its long-term effects

Meningitis and its long-term effects

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is a serious illness in which infection causes inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.

If not treated immediately, meningitis can be deadly. Survivors can experience a number of long-term effects, including brain injury, hearing loss, vision loss and limb loss or amputation.

Our medical negligence lawyers have obtained compensation for adults and children who have suffered brain injury after meningitis and may be suffering from many of the following long-term, disabilities. 

What are the physical effects of brain injury caused by meningitis?

Physically, the individual may have impaired movement and coordination affecting their mobility, balance and independence. Long-term movement difficulties are more common with children. They may be linked to hearing loss.

Individuals may also experience seizures (also known as fits or convulsions) and suffer from epilepsy, which may need to be controlled by medication. Headaches and fatigue are also commonly experienced after meningitis.

How does meningitis cause limb loss or amputation?

Meningitis and septicaemia often happen together. Septicaemia occurs when meningococcal bacteria enters the blood stream, causing damage to blood vessels and reducing the flow of oxygen to major organs, such as the heart, brain, lungs, liver and kidneys. As the body prioritises sending blood to the vital organs, the blood supply to the peripheries – legs, arms, fingers and toes – is reduced. Without enough oxygenated blood, the hands and feet start to die and amputation may be needed.

Amputation can be devastating, affecting the amputee’s mobility, independence, ability to care for themselves or their children and their ability to work. Without proper support and prosthetic provision, amputees can become isolated and suffer from psychological symptoms, such as post- traumatic stress and depression.

If you have experienced limb loss following meningitis there are some great charities that we work with, such as PACE, which may be able to help you.

What are the subtle or invisible after-effects of meningitis?

In addition to the physical consequences of brain injury, meningitis survivors can also suffer from subtle or invisible after-effects which have a huge impact on their daily life but can be misunderstood by people around them as they are less obvious than a physical disability.

Meningitis charity, Meningitis Now’s helpful fact sheets set out the many ways in which brain injury from meningitis can cause difficulty with aspects of brain function that we take for granted, such as memory, perception and ‘executive skills’, such as organisation and understanding the consequences of our behaviour. Injury to the brain from meningitis can cause unpleasant changes in behaviour, such as:

  • withdrawal
  • being impulsive
  • aggression
  • lack of inhibition
  • loss of confidence
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • anxiety

Some people also experience problems with language following a brain injury.

How can meningitis cause hearing loss?

According to Meningitis Now, approximately 8% of survivors will experience some degree of permanent hearing loss. This is caused by damage to the hair cells of the cochlea or nerve fibres inside the ear. Cochlear damage is sometimes treated with cochlear implants but long-term hearing loss can still remain. The severity of hearing loss can fluctuate over time and needs long-term monitoring.

Meningitis treatment delay: How can Boyes Turner help obtain compensation?

Each meningitis survivor’s experience is unique, depending on the way in which their brain and body were affected by the disease. At Boyes Turner we can help those affected by negligently delayed treatment for meningitis get support that is personalised to meet their individual needs. We have helped clients obtain:

  • care
  • special educational support
  • prosthetics
  • assistive technology
  • specialist equipment
  • therapies
  • adapted vehicles
  • adapted accommodation
  • counselling
  • compensation for loss of earnings

Our brain injury and amputation specialists have successfully claimed millions of pounds in settlements for meningitis survivors. In cases where admissions of liability have been made, we secure interim payments to get rehabilitation underway, to ease financial hardship which arises from the individual’s loss of earnings, and to fund bespoke prosthetics, therapy, assistance with personal care, education, accessibility and adapted accommodation, often long before the claim is finally settled.

What our clients say:

“I’m back driving, which is fantastic. My car’s been adapted. I use my left foot to drive with, so the accelerator is now on the left side.”

Jan McFadden

“Now we’ve come to the end of this and I think, oh my God! I could have missed out on all this help.”

If you are caring for someone who has suffered amputation or brain injury from negligent medical care and would like to find out more about bringing a claim, contact us by email at

The service was personal, professional and considered. I was treated so kindly and in the end I knew that not only had I found the right organisation but also the right person.

Boyes Turner client

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