What is it?
Spina Bifida is a condition where the spinal cord fails to develop properly resulting in permanent damage to the spinal cord and nervous system. Newborns with Spina Bifida may have an open lesion on their spine, and while the lesion can be repaired with surgery, the nerve damage cannot.
The main problem is varying degrees of paralysis to the legs. Bladder and bowel problems are also common and many people with Spina Bifida also have learning disabilities.
Doctors have defined three types of Spina Bifida : Spina Bifida occulta, Spina Bifida cystica with meningocele, and Spina Bifida cystica with myelomeningocele. The first category occulta is mild and may not be noticed.
What causes it?
Spina Bifida is the result of incomplete closing of the embryonic neural tube in the first four weeks of pregnancy. What causes this defect is unknown and while there is no sure means of prevention there is a suggestion that a dietary supplementation with folic acid can reduce the risk.
Surgery can compensate for some of the damage; however, since people with the condition face mobility challenges Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy can be valuable.
There may be neurological complications, abnormal eye movement and an allergy to latex.
Looking down the road
While Spina Bifida cannot be cured; however, many people can overcome the challenges and pursue their interests and goals.