Spina Bifida is an inborn defect that affects the child’s nervous system. The backbone and spinal canal fail to
close before birth, thereby allowing the spinal cord and covering meninges to protrude out of the child's back.
Damage to the spinal cord and nerve roots result to a decrease or lack of function of body areas controlled at
or below the defect. Symptoms include partial or complete lack of sensation and may include loss of bladder or
bowel control. The exposed spinal cord is also susceptible to infection, meningitis. Not infrequently, other
congenital disorders may also be present in the child, such as hydrocephalus (abnormal build up of CSF in the
brain that causes pressure inside the head to increase) hip dislocation, and other disorders.
||The upper picture shows a child with a normal brain and spinal cord.
There is an orderly arrangement of the peripheral nerves to the bladder, bowels, and the lower extremities.
The lower picture shows a child with Spina Bifida.
There is a derangement of the lower spinal cord causing disorderly distribution of the nerves to the bladder, bowels, and lower extremities. This causes havoc in the function of the involved organs. Another feature of Spina Bifida is the poor circulation of brain fluid causing fluid to accumulate and head to enlarge.
Although Spina Bifida has different forms and varying degrees of defect, most of them will have to undergo
surgeries to correct the spinal, leg, and foot problems. Shunt surgery is necessary to drain fluid from the
brain. Application of techniques to control bladder and bowel function and use of equipment (e.g wheel chair,
braces) to facilitate walking will be essential.
Fortunately for some children, in the absence of complications, they function within the average range of
intelligence making them capable of handling and pursuing a career.