National Spina Bifida Awareness Month is an annual designation observed in October. Because Spina Bifida currently has no cure, all that can be done is management of the symptoms; that is why BrightStar Care® of Delray Beach is committed to raising awareness throughout the month. In most cases, it is Unknown what causes Spina Bifida, but for many Korean and Vietnam War Veterans, family History can be traced back to Agent Orange. According to the Mayo Clinic, which shares a Joint Commission Accreditation title like BrightStar Care®; “Spina Bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don't form properly. It falls under the broader category of neural tube defects. The neural tube is the embryonic structure that eventually develops into the baby's brain and spinal cord and the tissues that enclose them. Normally, the neural tube forms early in pregnancy, and it closes by the 28th day after conception.”
What all this means is that in babies with Spina Bifida, a portion of the neural tube fails to develop or close properly. This results in defects of the spinal cord and in the bones of the spine. Spina Bifida can range from mild to severe, depending on the type of defect, size, location and complications. When early treatments for spina bifida are necessary, it usually requires surgery; though treatment doesn't always fully resolve the problem or symptoms.
Spina Bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States. In fact, some individuals with Spina Bifida may never even know that they have it! There are three different types that can occur:
Spina Bifida Occulta- "Occulta" means hidden; known as the mildest form, it results in a small separation or gap in one or more of the vertebrae, or bones of the spine.
Spina Bifida Meningocele- Characterized by a sac filled with fluid; the protective membranes around the spinal cord (meninges) push out through the opening in the vertebrae in this slightly more severe diagnosis. This sac doesn't include the spinal cord, so nerve damage is less likely, though later complications are possible and may require intervention.
Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele- Also known as Open Spina bifida, is the most severe form. In these cases, the spinal canal is open along several vertebrae in the lower or middle back. The membranes and spinal nerves push through this opening at birth, forming a sac on the baby's back that exposes tissues and nerves; making the baby prone to life-threatening infections. Individuals born with this type of Spina bifida will almost definitely require intervention and assistance that can be provided to residents of the greater Delray Beach, Boca Raton, and Boynton Beach area by BrightStar Care® of Delray Beach.
In individuals affected by Spina Bifida, mobility issues can lead to pressure sores, decubitus ulcers (bed sores) and, in severe cases, the need for wound care. If you are a family member of a Veteran exposed to Agent Orange, you may be eligible for VA benefits; and you can feel confident knowing that BrightStar Care® is an Approved Provider of the VA Spina Bifida Program. BrightStar caregivers are trained to provide pressure relief every 15 minutes for wheelchair-bound patients, and to turn bed-bound patients every two hours to prevent complications caused by prolonged immobility. Our CNAs and HHAs are also trained in the transfer of patients using Hoyer lifts and slide boards, and use the proper techniques to help patients avoid injuries and falls during transport; and our office staff is always ready to help you access your VA benefits when you are ready.
Are you or a loved one affected daily by the challenges that Spina bifida brings? If so, know that you are not alone! Comment below what struggles you face, or contact BrightStar Care of Delray Beach®; we are able to be reached 24/7 at 561.921.0550.