Spina Bifida is a condition where a baby’s spine and spinal cord do not develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine. Spina Bifida is a type of neural tube defect which affects the structure that eventually develops into the baby’s brain and spinal cord. This tube normally starts to form in early pregnancy and closes about four weeks after conception. However, in spina bifida, part of the neural tube doesn’t develop or close properly, leading to defects in the spinal cord and vertebrae. It is not known what causes spina bifida but it is thought a lack of folic acid in the early stages of pregnancy could be a factor.
There are a number of different types of spina bifida including:
- Myelomeningocele – this is the most severe type of spina bifida, where the baby’s spinal canal remains open along several vertebrae which allows the spinal cord and protective membranes around it to push out and form a sac in the baby’s back.
- Meningocele – this is another serious type of spina bifida where the spinal cord’s protective membranes push out through the spine. The spinal cord tends to develop normally so the membranes can be removed by surgery without damaging the nerves.
- Spina Bifida Occulta – the most common and mildest form of spina bifida is where one or more vertebrae don’t form properly but the gap is very small so it doesn’t tend to cause many problems and most people are not aware they even have it.
Although surgery can be used to close the opening in the spine caused by spina bifida, the nervous system can still be damaged which can lead to problems such as weakness or total paralysis of the legs, bowel incontinence and urinary incontinence, loss of skin sensation in the legs and lower body, and some babies can develop hydrocephalus which is a build-up of fluid on the brain which can cause damage in the brain.
Over the years at Able2 Wear, we have worked closely with our customers to develop a range of clothing suitable for people who use wheelchairs. We have a collection of elasticated waist and drop front wheelchair trousers – which have been specially designed to be longer at the back and lower at the front to ensure they are comfortable when worn when sitting in a wheelchair. These designs have also been made available as shorts for wheelchair users. In addition, we also have a range of wheelchair fleeces and waterproofs. Some people with spina bifida lose skin sensation in their legs and feet so our range of oedema socks are ideal for keeping their feet and ankles warm and comfy.