Spina bifida is a neural tube defect that arises during pregnancy. Early in pregnancy, the neural tube develops along the back of the embryo and later becomes the brain, spinal cord, and their coverings. If the tube does not close up completely, defects may result.
Spina bifida affects the spinal cord and vertebrae. The effects of spina bifida range from minor abnormality of the vertebrae to part of the spinal cord being completely exposed.
The symptoms of spina bifida vary, depending on the condition’s severity. Severe symptoms may arise during childhood and primarily affect the lower body. These symptoms include:
- Leg paralysis or weakness
- Lack of sensation in the legs
- Abnormal functioning of the bladder and bowels
- Buildup of fluid in the brain
- Learning difficulties
Persons who are disabled by spina bifida may benefit from therapy and other rehabilitative care. MedStar National Rehabilitation Network offers comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services designed to assist patients in becoming as independent and functional as possible.
Individualized rehabilitative care is tailored to the patient’s needs and goals, and care is directed by board-certified MedStar NRH physicians. Depending on the patient's needs and goals, services may include:
- Medical evaluation and care
- Coordination with the referring physician
- Patient and family education
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Therapeutic recreation
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Rehabilitation nursing
- Orthotics services
- Social work
- Rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology