What is Spinal Bifida?

The name comes from the Latin term meaning “split spine”. Spinal Bifida is an incurable group of spinal abnormalities or neural tube defects which occur in the first 4 weeks of pregnancy. It results when the baby’s developing spine (neural tube) fails to develop properly causing a chronic spinal injury when they’re born. The spinal cord, bones forming the spinal column (vertebrae) and the overlying skin don’t develop correctly.

There are three different types, ranging in severity and can occur anywhere along the spine producing a very broad range of conditions from mild impairment to very severe disability.

Can you prevent Spinal Bifida?

Neural tube defects such as Spinal Bifida are caused by genetic and environmental factors that are not fully understood yet. However, it is known that inadequate folate in pregnancy is a significant risk factor. Therefore, it is recommended to take folate one month before conception and the first three months of pregnancy which can have 70% prevention.

How Spinal Bifida impacts you?

The effects of spina bifida are life-long and extremely variable, which can be challenging both intellectually and physically. For instance, walking difficulty or inability to walk, urinary and bowel incontinence, sexual dysfunction, deformities of the spine, hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain), learning difficulties, lack of skin sensation and many more!

What is the best exercise for people with Spinal Bifida?

There is no one exercise best for all, find what you like and be active on most to all days of the week. Some suggestions are sports such as wheelchair basketball or modified tennis, walking the dog, swimming, gym programs, modified yoga, canoeing or even pushing in the wheelchair over a distance, using long arm movements. Guidelines for accumulated weekly activity include: 2 ½ to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity OR 1¼ to 2 ½ hours of vigorous activity every week OR A combination of moderate and vigorous physical activities is OK each week also.

What are the benefits of being physically active?

Improve fitness, balance, coordination. Maintain and develop flexibility. Increase muscle strength, particularly upper body which is important for transfers to/from wheelchair and posture. Help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Help with constipation.

REMEMBER: Doing any physical activity is better than doing none!

So if you or someone you know suffers from Spinal Bifida and would like more information, come into your local Optimum Health Solutions and speak to one of our friendly Exercise Physiologist.

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