What is Spina Bifida? What is Spina Bifida?

This video tells the incredible story of Aaron Fotheringham, an extreme athlete who lives with spina bifida.

What is spina bifida? It literally means “split spine,” and it happens when a baby is in the womb and the spinal column does not close all the way. It is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States. No one knows the cause of spina bifida, but scientists believe that genetic and environmental factors act together to cause the condition. There are four types of the disease, each type a different level of severity.

Symptoms of spina bifida include:

1. Mobility problems

2. Bladder, bowel & gastrointestinal disorders

3. Latex allergy

4. Obesity

5. Skin breakdown

6. Learning disabilities

7. Social issues

8. Tendonitis

9. Sexual issues

Because the level of severity differs among people with spina bifida, each individual faces different challenges and may require different treatments. The best way to manage the disease is with a team approach. The team may include neurosurgeons, urologists, orthopedists, physical and occupational therapists, orthotists, psychologists and medical social workers.

With help, children with spina bifida can lead full lives. Today, 90 percent of babies born with spina bifida live to be adults, about 80 percent have normal intelligence and about 75 percent play sports and do other fun activities. This information comes from The Spina Bifida Association. Learn more here.