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Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida is a birth defect where part of the spinal cord does not close properly during fetal development. Spinal birth defects are associated with learning disabilities, skin problems, latex allergies, urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal problems, and depression.
Spina Bifida is the most common type of neural tube defect. The improper development of the spinal cord can result in exposed nerves and malformation of the spine. It most often causes some degree of paralysis; the degree of the paralysis depends on the location and severity of the defect. In addition to paralysis, persons with Spina Bifida may experience bladder and bowel problems, seizures, and they may also have hydrocephalus (fluid accumulation in the brain) and be at increased risk for meningitis.

Observing Spina Bifida in the Classroom

Faculty might observe the following in students with Spina Bifida:

  • Might experience learning difficulties
  • Might be able to walk but it can cause pain
  • Might be absent more than other students
  • Might use a wheelchair, scooter, or crutches


Related Functional Characteristics

Motor Skill (Fine) : Fine motor skills may be impacted if the upper spine is impacted.

Motor Skill (Gross Lower) : Students with Spina Bifida are often in wheelchairs.

Motor Skill (Gross Upper) : Weakness or paralysis below the area where the spine doesn't close is common.

Personal Care/ Medical Equipment Needs : Students with Spina Bifida may have need for a personal care attendant.

Service Animal Needs : Students who have difficulty with grip strength or fine motor coordination may use a service animal to retrieve objects, or to provide balance.

The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.