Spina Bifida is a condition that affects children from birth and results in an incomplete closing of the spinal vertebrae and membranes surrounding the spinal cord. This leaves the spinal cord exposed and in the more severe forms of spina bifida it will protrude. We are based in Lichfield and offer a paediatric physiotherapy service in surrounding areas such as Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth, Rugeley, Cannock and Walsall.
There are 3 types of spina bifidia: spina bidifda oculta, meningocele and myelomeningocele with oculta being the least severe in terms of effects on children. Most commonly this incomplete closure of the vertebrae occurs in the lower back and is thought to occur in about 0.4 - 0.7 pregnancies per 1000 births. Both genetics and environmental factors such as poorly controlled diabetes are thought to play a role in its development. Often at some stage after birth a child with spina bifida will receive surgery to close up the incompletely fused vertebrae and seal up the membranes in order to reduce chances of infection and pressure on the spinal cord.
The effects of spina bifida on each child depend upon the severity of the condition and often children with spina bifida oculta will have only mild problems with leg movement and strength. Predominantly due to its location in the lower back it will be leg movement and strength that is affected in children. Physiotherapy for children with spina bifida is vital to promote good strength, improve walking and mobility and improve balance.
How can ThreeSpires Physiotherapy help?
Our physiotherapist is experienced at working with children with Spina Bifida of all ages and understands the difficulties that they will face. After you have arranged an appointment, our paediatric physiotherapist will visit you at home. In general, we would recommend that the initial assessment is conducted at home to make your child feel relaxed, to enable a thorough discussion and also to facilitate our physiotherapist assessing how therapy can happen at home. Follow up sessions may be at home, school or nursery as required. Below is a description of a typical initial assessment:
Subjective - at this point there is a discussion between you, the physiotherapist and depending on their age your child. The physiotherapist will cover medical history, current issues, goals and anything else that is important to you and your child. This part of the assessment is critical as it allows you to discuss your concerns and also allows the physiotherapist to understand what is important to you and what the main difficulties are.
Objective - this is a comprehensive physical examination by the physiotherapist who will look at movement, range of motion at each joint, balance and strength. Our paediatric physiotherapist will make this a fun and relaxed process and children (sometimes even parents!) will often be unaware that it is an assessment.
Our physiotherapist has specialised in paediatrics and has a large amount of experience at using play that assesses a wide range of components such as balance and range of motion at various joints. When working with children this is a vital skill and it makes each session fun which is vital in order to maximise the therapeutic benefit.
Treatment - during this part of the session your physiotherapist will practice some movements with your child, help them strengthen any muscles affected by Spina Bifida, work on improving their balance and they may also help stretch some of your child's muscles. The physiotherapist always makes this fun so that your child enjoys and looks forward to each session. Your physiotherapist will also talk over and show you ways in which you can help with exercises at home.
At the end of the initial assessment session your physiotherapist will discuss with you what to do next and will cover an overall plan including the likely number of sessions needed, how often sessions should be and goals for physiotherapy.
They will also discuss where it is best to conduct each session, generally some sessions will be at home and some will be at school. Your physiotherapist (with your permission) will be able to liaise with school, the GP, your surgeon and any other staff involved in the care of your child and can provide a report if required.