How Physiotherapy can Support Children with Spina Bifida

How Physiotherapy can Support Children with Spina Bifida



Physiotherapy can play a significant role in supporting children with spina bifida to reach their full potential.  

What is Spina Bifida?

Spina bifida is a congenital condition. It occurs during foetal development, the neural tube doesn't fully close, and this can lead to exposing the baby’s spinal cord to the outside world and potential further damage. Depending on the severity and classification of spina bifida it can be managed by surgery and/or physiotherapy.

How can Physiotherapy Help?

Physiotherapy can play a significant role in helping children with spina bifida by addressing physical challenges, enhancing mobility, and improving overall quality of life. The specific benefits of physiotherapy for a child with spina bifida depend on their individual needs and the severity of their condition, but here are some ways in which it can help:

  1. Muscle Strengthening: Physiotherapists can design exercise programs to strengthen the muscles affected by spina bifida. Stronger muscles can help compensate for weaker or paralysed muscles and improve stability and mobility.
  2. Joint Mobility: Exercises and stretches can be tailored to maintain or improve joint mobility. This can prevent contractures and maintain a wider range of motion.
  3. Balance & Coordination: Physiotherapists can work on balance and coordination exercises, which can be particularly important for children with spina bifida as it can help aid development and improve overall mobility.
  4. Pain Management: If your child experiences pain due to musculoskeletal issues, Physiotherapy can include pain management strategies such as manual therapy, modalities like heat or cold therapy, and 24-hour postural care techniques.
  5. Assistive Devices & Mobility Aids: Physiotherapists can assess the need for mobility aids such as wheelchairs, braces, or orthotics and help your child move how they want to and achieve their movement goals.
  6. Gait Training: For children who are able to walk a physiotherapist can work on gait training to help them walk more efficiently and with better efficiency. They can also assist with the fitting and use of orthopaedic devices like ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs).
  7. Bladder & Bowel Function: Physiotherapists can provide guidance on exercises and techniques to manage bladder and bowel function, which can be affected in some children with spina bifida.
  8. Education & Support: Physiotherapists can educate families of children with spina bifida on managing challenges, including providing strategies for home exercises and daily care routines.

Further Help & Information

It's important to note that physiotherapy should be tailored to the specific needs and abilities of each child. Your child’s therapy plan should be developed in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary healthcare team that may include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and other healthcare professionals.

At Xavier, our experienced team of physiotherapists support children with spina bifida and other complex conditions to improve their physical health and wellbeing. For further information about our physiotherapy support, complete the simple form on our physiotherapy page and we will be in touch.