Individuals with a potentially disabling disorder known as spina bifida may still be able to enjoy a healthy and productive aging process.
Spina Bifida Overview
This ailment is a birth defect that impacts the spines of stricken individuals. The condition develops during fetal growth. As the life form progresses towards birth, its brain and spinal column are formed in a structure classified as a neural tube. However, in individuals who contract spina bifida, this structure fails to close completely, which impedes the backbone (solid structure that protects the spine) from properly developing.
Children born with the malady can experience a host of physical, mental and developmental issues. However, more than 90 percent of these individuals will live well into their adult years and can enjoy a relatively normal life.
Potential Associated Health Risks
There are a few potential risks that are associated with spina bifida:
As every adult grows older, he or she will face the challenges and potential physical ailments associated with this process. Older individuals experience weaker muscles and bones, can become more prone to injury and experience decreased strength and flexibility.
While these issues might precipitate minor to moderate physical injuries that can induce pain and result in mobility problems for anyone, they can be multiplied for someone with spina bifida. In such persons, physical decline and aging often occur at a much more rapid pace and can have far more severe consequences.
Adults with the condition often experience a malady known as tethering. When this occurs, regions of the spinal cord become affixed to surrounding tissue in lieu of remaining in place. This could result in numerous symptoms such as pain, mobility issues, scoliosis (spinal curvature), bowel or bladder problems and numbness in the extremities.
Those with the disease are more likely to sustain bone fractures and experience joint ailments such as arthritis.
The condition could precipitate the loss of sensation in various regions of the skin. Such an occurrence may result in a greater propensity for bruising and infections.
The lack of mobility might limit the amount of physical activity an individual with spina bifida can partake in. A lack of exercise could result in pronounced weight gain that ultimately leads to obesity.
Spina bifida patients stand at an increased risk for developing lung problems as well as high blood pressure.
Though women with the disease are able to conceive children, the body changes experienced during pregnancy might result in physical issues, and the delivery process can be quite complicated and require special preparations.
Methods of Avoiding or Overcoming Associated Side Effects
Fortunately, spina bifida patients might be able to lead a normal or more comfortable life by executing the following actions:
Persons with pronounced cases or those who have sustained associated physical ailments might benefit from physical therapy. This action will keep blood flow moving and prevent muscles from weakening.
Many associated issues can be prevented or at the very least controlled through close monitoring. For example, high blood pressure can be screened for and treated using a variety of medications or lifestyle changes.
Though spina bifida patients might not be able to participate in intense levels of exercise, weight management can be controlled using other methods such as the consumption of a healthy, nutritious diet.
Women stricken with the condition are strongly encouraged to consult with a healthcare professional before becoming pregnant and certainly during the gestation period. A physician can help a patient determine if pregnancy would be safe in accordance with the patient’s specific circumstances, as well as help make all necessary preparations to ensure as safe and comfortable a delivery as possible.