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Spina Bifida

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

What Is Spina Bifida?

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Spina bifida occurs before birth when the neural tube (what later becomes the spinal cord) does not fully close during the first month of pregnancy. As a result, there is a malformation of the bones protecting the spinal cord and damage anywhere along the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. Surgery is typically required shortly after birth. About 1,500 babies in the US are diagnosed with the condition per year. It can cause physical, cognitive, and sensory impairments.

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

PT is important in helping children move, reach developmental milestones, and prevent or decrease long-term complications. Treatment will be tailored to meet the patient’s specific needs and goals.

Activities may include walking training (with or without assistive devices), treadmill training, stretching, and exercises for strength, balance, and coordination. Recommendations for equipment to maximize function may include orthotics, crutches, walkers, standers, or wheelchairs. Furthermore, PTs at Zion PT work closely with your child’s pediatrician and can help determine if the patient could benefit from other health care services.

Interested in learning more? For more information, you can go to

To schedule an evaluation with a pediatric Physical Therapist, call (212) 353-8693 or email

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