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Shriners Children's provides individualized spina bifida care for children.

Spina bifida is a condition that affects the spine and is usually apparent at birth. It is a type of neural tube defect and can happen anywhere along the spine if the neural tube does not close all the way. When the neural tube doesn’t close all the way, the backbone that protects the spinal cord doesn’t form and close as it should. This often results in damage to the spinal cord and nerves.

Spina bifida can be diagnosed during pregnancy or after the baby is born.

Not all people born with spina bifida have the same needs, so treatment is different for each child. Some patents have problems that are more serious than others. Our medical team and rehabilitation specialists work collaboratively alongside orthopedic surgeons and urologists at Shriners Children's to help children with spina bifida lead active, productive lives.

Patients are generally seen in our spina bifida clinics at least once per year. Younger children are typically seen more often.

Families of children with spina bifida, or pregnant women who are carrying a fetus diagnosed with spina bifida, can contact Shriners Children's for more information.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Learn about Spina Bifida Treatments and Care

Shriners Children's understands the complex nature of spina bifida. All patients benefit from the expertise of the entire medical team, which provides multidisciplinary clinics. Coordinated by case managers, our collaborative approach to care extends to nurses, physical therapists, orthotists, and child-life therapists who treat patients in mind, body and spirit. The expertise, experience and environment of care create a synergy that distinguishes our care at Shriners Children's.

Some of the support services we offer for children with spina bifida:

  • Motion analysis: Many of our locations have a motion analysis center designed to evaluate patient movement patterns. Motion analysis is an objective measuring technique that assists the medical team in developing a custom approach to improve the child’s function.
  • Orthotics: Orthotics are designed to support alignment of the upper and lower extremities. They can also help with stability while walking.
  • Pediatric rehabilitation services: This may include occupational and physical therapy, aqua therapy, speech-language pathology, locomotion/walking therapy using a robotic-assisted treadmill (Lokomat), upper extremity robotic training (ARMEO) and electrical stimulation.
  • Assistive device evaluations: Our trained team of physical therapists and providers work together to recommend and prescribe equipment such as crutches, walkers and specialty wheelchairs to aid in mobility.
  • Orthopedic surgery: Internationally recognized surgeons at Shriners Children's provide complex surgical care to ambulatory and non-ambulatory children 1 year and older with congenital and acquired conditions. Surgical procedures vary greatly from case to case, but all are aimed at improving function and independence as much as possible. This may include surgery to foster mobility or a procedure to address a secondary condition that's hindering function.
  • General and urologic surgery: Internationally recognized surgeons at Shriners Children’s provide complex surgical care for children with bowel and bladder incontinence. Surgical procedures vary greatly from case to case, but all are aimed at protecting kidney function and promoting independence as much as possible.
From our first visit, I knew Shriners Children's was where Francesca belonged. Everyone made us feel welcome. There were no mentions of limitations. No cant’s.
Sissy, Fresno
male patient outside using walker

Using Movie-Making Technology to Provide Advanced Care

Many of our locations have a motion analysis center designed to collect data on and evaluate patient movement patterns. Motion analysis takes advantage of the same 3-D technology that animated movie makers use to assist the medical team in developing a custom approach that improves the child’s function.

Conditions we Treat

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VATER/VACTERL Syndrome

VATER/VACTERL syndrome is a congenital disorder with at least three irregularities occurring together. VACTERL stands for Vertebral, Anal, Cardiac, Tracheal, Esophageal, Renal (kidney) and Limb abnormalities.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.