Spina Bifida Spinal Brace and Orthosis | Daily Living Aids for People with Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a malformation of the spinal cord and spinal column which occurs at the birth of an individual. Spina bifida occurs more frequently in the area of the lumbar spine and sacrum than in the area of the thoracic or cervical spine. When a fetus is developing into a baby, the neural tube is a structure that gradually develops into the brain, the spinal cord, and the tissues around them. Spina bifida is a condition that is caused when the neural tube doesn’t develop properly or doesn’t close after development. The intensity of the condition depends from person to person and varies in terms of defect, size, location, and complication caused by spina bifida.

What are the Types of Spina Bifida?

There are two major types of spina bifida that are characterized by their intensity, their location, and the complications they cause. They are:
  • Spina bifida occulta – As the name suggests, spina bifida occulta is the condition that is hidden or cannot be noticed easily. It usually occurs in a small separation or gap in one or more of the bones of the spine. This is type of spina bifida is difficult to diagnose by simple physical diagnoses and would need an imaging test to find the condition and its intensity.
  • Myelomeningocele – Often referred to as open spina bifida, this type of spina bifida is clearly visible on the back of the baby during the start of the condition. This type of spina bifida is characterized by open vertebrae of the spine that causes the membranes and spinal nerves to push through the spine and out onto the back forming a sack.

What are the Symptoms of Spina Bifida?

The symptoms of spina bifida are also different for both the types of spina bifida.
  • Symptoms of Spina Bifida Occulta – Since this type of spina bifida is hidden between the bones of the spine, there are not direct symptoms that one can notice to diagnose this condition. But sometimes, this type leaves marks on the skin or a birth mark on the skin outside the spine such as blackened skin, a tuft of hair, or a dimple often leaving a sign that there is some issue within the spine.
  • Symptoms of Myelomeningocele – The symptoms of this type of spina bifida is the visible sac on the spine on the back. The sac contains the protruding membranes and spinal nerves that have pushed through the open bones of the spine. The indirect symptoms include infections, bowel syndromes, and bladder problems.

Risk Factors for Spina Bifida

Though doctors haven’t pin pointed the exact cause of spina bifida, there are a few risk factors that are known to cause spina bifida among individuals.
  • Folate deficiency – Folate is one of the most important nutrients required to help in the overall development of a child in the womb. If the mother has a folate deficiency during pregnancy, there are high chances of the baby having spina bifida or other spinal problems.
  • Hereditary – Your genes often carry a number of vulnerabilities to some conditions from your ancestors. Spina bifida can also be passed on from gene to gene and can be hereditary. If your ancestors have a history of underdeveloped neural tubes then there are high chances of spina bifida.
  • Diabetes – If mothers who have diabetes and haven’t been controlling their sugar levels during pregnancy, there is a chance of the baby developing spina bifida at birth.
  • Obesity – Pre-pregnancy obesity is often cited as a cause for an underdeveloped neural tube thus resulting in the development of spina bifida.

Complications of Spina Bifida – Management of Spina Bifida

Spina bifida might not seem damaging to a person but the abnormalities in the spine caused by this condition can cause a wide range of other damaging conditions that can complicate into life-altering conditions.
  • Mobility Issues – Spina bifida affects the working of the nerves that control the leg muscles thus causing sudden numbness and sometimes even paralysis. The deformity in the spine can directly or indirectly cause gait problems and make it difficult for individuals to walk or sometimes even sit. The mobility issues can be seen during childhood or might develop later as the individual grows. Mobility issues can be managed using mobility aids such as walkers, rollators, crutches, canes, and much more. Discomfort in the legs can also be managed using ankle braces, knee supports, knee braces, compression socks, etc. Orthotic insoles can also be chosen to manage gait issues and walking problems.
  • Bowel and Bladder Problems – This is a common complication in myelomeningocele type of spina bifida as it affects the nerves that control the bladder and bowel and thus cause a dysfunctional system complication into other bladder and bowel conditions. Bladder control aids or incontinence aids such as adult diapers, adult underwear, adult briefs, incontinence under-pads, etc., can be used to manage bladder problems.
  • Infections – Meningitis is a common infection associated with spina bifida and this infection often spreads around the tissues of the brain. This complication is potentially life threating and should be controlled with immediate attention. These infections can only be controlled using medications prescribed by medical professionals.
  • Skin Problems – Children with spina bifida often develop skin problems such as rashes, wounds, or bruises around the legs, buttocks, back, and feet. These skin problems often start with blisters and sores and develop into wounds. Blisters and sores can be managed using skin creams, ointments, and lotions and can be contained using wound care dressings. Wound dressings can also be helpful for managing wounds caused by spina bifida.
  • Shunt Malfunction – Hydrocephalus is a complication caused by spina bifida which results in the accumulation of fluid inside the cranial space. Shunts are used to control this fluid accumulation. Sometimes these shunts get infected or stop working and the symptoms of this may include, headaches, vomiting, sleepiness, heavy head, confusion, migraines, seizures, and sometimes even fits. A lot of these conditions can be managed using rehabilitation therapies, daily living aids, modalities, and exercise and fitness aids.
  • Sleep Disorders and Breathing Issues – The nerves damaged due to spina bifida can also affect the lungs and the respiratory tract thus causing sleep apnea which results in sleeping problems and snoring. Sleep apnea can be managed using CPAP devices, and other respiratory aids.

Prevention of Spina Bifida

Spina bifida can be prevented by managing the risk factors that lead to the increased chances of spina bifida. Diet is one of the main ways of preventing spina bifida as folate deficiency in the mother is one of the most common causes of spina bifida in the child.

Folic acid can help cope with the folate deficiency that often causes spina bifida. Foods that include folic acid include
  • Enriched bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Breakfast cereals
Folic acid supplements can also be consumed on a regular basis during the pregnancy to ensure that the child is not vulnerable to spina bifida.
Other foods one should include in their diet include:
  • Beans and peas
  • Citrus fruits
  • Egg yolks
  • Milk
  • Avocados
  • Dark green vegetables

Where to Buy Best Spina Bifida Products Online?

At Rehab Store, we have an extensive range of premium and best spina bifida products that help manage the different complications caused by spina bifida. Choose from a wide range of nutritional products that help prevent spina bifida, at amazing prices and discounts from top manufacturers and brands.