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Spina bifida is a complex congenital condition that affects the development of the spine and spinal cord, leading to a range of physical challenges. However, with advancements in medical care and rehabilitative techniques, children and teenagers with spina bifida can lead fulfilling lives with the help of physical therapy. Physical therapy can play a crucial role in helping to improve the mobility, strength, and overall well-being of individuals living with spina bifida.

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Physical therapy is a fundamental component of the multidisciplinary approach to managing spina bifida. It focuses on maximizing your child’s functional abilities, independence, and overall quality of life. By employing various techniques and exercises tailored to the unique needs of each patient, a physical therapist can address specific challenges associated with spina bifida.

A physical therapist may help your child in several ways:

  • Promoting Mobility and Independence
    One of the primary goals of physical therapy for individuals with spina bifida is to improve mobility and independence. Physical therapists work closely with patients to develop customized treatment plans that incorporate exercises to help enhance muscle strength, coordination, and balance. These exercises may include stretching, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning routines.
  • Gait Training and Orthotic Management
    Children and teens with spina bifida may experience difficulties in walking due to muscle weakness, skeletal deformities, or other related complications. Physical therapists may play a crucial role in assessing gait patterns, providing gait training, and recommending appropriate assistive devices such as braces, crutches, or walkers. By addressing gait abnormalities and optimizing orthotic management, physical therapy helps children and teenagers with spina bifida achieve greater mobility and functional independence.
  • Improving Neuromuscular Function
    Spina bifida can lead to challenges with neuromuscular coordination and control. Physical therapists employ specialized techniques, such as neurodevelopmental treatment (NDT) and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), to improve motor function, posture, and overall muscle control. These interventions facilitate normal movement patterns, reduce muscle imbalances, and promote optimal alignment.
  • Addressing Secondary Health Issues
    Kids and teens with spina bifida often face secondary health issues like musculoskeletal complications, respiratory problems, and obesity. Physical therapists can work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals to develop comprehensive treatment plans that address these concerns. Through targeted exercises, manual therapy, and education, physical therapy helps manage pain, prevent secondary complications, and promote a healthy lifestyle.
  • Psychosocial Support and Advocacy
    Physical therapy not only addresses physical challenges but may also provide psychosocial support for individuals with spina bifida. By fostering a supportive and inclusive environment, physical therapists play a vital role in promoting your child’s self-confidence, independence, and positive self-image. They also advocate for their patients, ensuring access to appropriate educational resources, adaptive equipment, and community integration opportunities.

A Pediatric Approach

Pediatric patients often have unique needs and may struggle to comprehend the complexities of their condition, the reasons for their pain, and the time required for recovery. A physical therapy clinic that understands the specific challenges that children and teens with spina bifida face may help your child achieve better outcomes.

At South Orange Rehabilitation & Wellness, we understand the distinct needs of children and teenagers undergoing physical therapy. Our care providers practice patience and kindness, understanding the frustration and confusion these young patients may experience. We employ age-appropriate techniques and approaches to facilitate your child’s progress. We can even provide infant physical therapy programs that focus on early intervention, promoting healthy growth, and laying a solid foundation for future development.

Teaching positive patterns and promoting healthy growth and development from the earliest stages can help ensure that your child meets and exceed their potential.

At South Orange Rehabilitation & Wellness, we are honored to work with children and adolescents in need of physical therapy. To get started, contact us today.