Spina bifida is any birth defect involving incomplete closure of the spine.


A newborn may have a sac sticking out of the mid to lower back. The doctor cannot see through the sac when shining a light behind it.

Symptoms include:

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Partial or complete lack of sensation
  • Partial or complete paralysis of the legs
  • Weakness of the hips, legs, or feet of a newborn

Other symptoms may include:

  • Abnormal feet or legs, such as clubfoot
  • Build up of fluid inside the skull (hydrocephalus)
  • Hair at the back part of the pelvis called the sacral area
  • Dimpling of the sacral area

What you can expect from therapy

After birth, surgery to repair the defect is usually recommended at an early age.

Before surgery, the infant must be handled carefully to reduce damage to the exposed spinal cord. That may include special care and positioning, protective devices, and changes in the methods of handling, feeding, and bathing. Orthopedic or physical therapy may be needed to treat musculoskeletal symptoms. Braces may be needed for muscle and joint problems.

Neurological losses are treated according to the type and severity of function loss. Follow-up examinations generally continue throughout the child's life. Those are done to check the child's developmental level and to treat any intellectual, neurological, or physical problems.

Learn more about how HealthReach therapists can help

Schedule your initial consultation today by calling us at 1-262-780-0707.

Click here to see our locations and to find a therapist near you.


Visit our resource center for videos and more information on occupational, physical and speech therapy.

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KidReach pediatric therapy specialists, Milwaukee, Brookfield, Hales Corners, Wisconsin