Spina bifida varies in severity .The severity is based upon where it is located on the spinal column and its size. The lower the opening in the spine the less severe the difficulties involved. Spina bifida is most commonly found in the lower spinal area. The higher the opening the more severe the paralysis will be, a wheel chair may be required. There is no cure for this condition however they’re treatments in order to create a lifestyle that decreases how much the disability interferes with daily life.
If spina bifida is discovered during pregnancy the condition can be treated immediately. For less severe cases of spina bifida surgery will have to be performed at some time during infancy. For more severe cases surgery must be performed within the first couple of days after birth. Even after the gap is closed through surgery the child will still have spinal cord dysfunction and problems with the nerves associated with opening and below. Some children will require additional surgeries to manage problems with their hips, feet or spine.
Different levels of severity will result in varying difficulties for each child. Many children with spina bifida can go on to live long normal lives. However some children will suffer from difficulties such as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or poor hand eye coordination. Children with gaps that occur lower in the spinal column may require the use of crutches, walkers or leg braces. Children with higher more severe gaps will suffer from other difficulties such as full or partial paralysis, problems with bladder and bowel control, learning disabilities, latex allergies and social and sexual issues.
Children with more severe cases of spina bifida will be born with a sac like mass that bulges from the back that will have to be removed right away. Most of these children will require the use of braces, crutches, walkers or even wheelchairs. These children may also need a bowel management program as well as a catheterization program to regulate their urinary system. Ninety percent of the most severe cases will form fluid on the brain and require a shunt to be placed in their brain to drain the fluid. The shunt will have to stay in place for the lifetime of the child.
It is important that you do not get too worried about your child’s spina bifida until you know the severity. As I said many children can live long healthy normal lives with spina bifida. Most cases of spina bifida do occur in the lower spine, which means they will suffer less severe affects than more severe cases. Some very successful people have suffered from spina bifida such as John Cougar Mellencamp, Hank Williams and Jean Driscoll. Jean Driscoll went on to become an Olympic athlete and an eight-time winner of the Boston Marathon.