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Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a congenital malformation of the spinal cord and column that, until recently, was known chiefly as a pediatric disability. Due to advancements in medical, surgical, and rehabilitative care, the number of adults living with spina bifida is increasing.

The UPMC Adult Spina Bifida Clinic provides coordinated care that often begins by working with pediatric specialists to ensure a smooth transition to adult medicine. And, it's the only program in western Pennsylvania specializing in the unique medical needs of adults with spina bifida.

Schedule an Appointment

Call 412-232-8903 to make an appointment at the Adult Spina Bifida Clinic at UPMC Mercy.

Call 1-800-533-8762 to make an appointment with a doctor from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Clinic Care Partner

The UPMC Adult Spina Bifida clinic is designated by the Spina Bifida Association as a Clinic Care Partner, meeting all 10 standards identified as best practices to care for individuals with Spina Bifida.

Clinic Care Partner

Health Problems Associated With Spina Bifida

People with spina bifida typically have increased pressure in the brain (hydrocephalus), which is treated by surgical shunting (draining).

Many health issues can accompany spina bifida, such as:

  • Paralysis of the lower limbs
  • Bowel, bladder, and kidney problems
  • Skin breakdown
  • Learning difficulties
  • Depression

Adults with spina bifida face additional unique challenges related to health and mobility, including:

Treatment at the Adult Spina Bifida Clinic

Treatment for adults with spina bifida varies greatly from that of children. The number of adults living with spina bifida increases almost daily; however, many clinics do not offer specialized treatment beyond pediatrics. As adults with spina bifida age, they encounter the typical effects of aging at a different and more rapid rate. Our clinic, geared specifically towards adults, combines a variety of specialties in order to provide the most comprehensive, up-to-date care for patients with spina bifida.

The UPMC Adult Spina Bifida Clinic offers on-site:

  • Kidney screenings
  • MRI and CT scans
  • Ultrasounds
  • X-rays

Our treatment team includes:

  • Doctors who coordinate care with your primary care physician
  • Nurses who specialize in spinal cord conditions
  • Dietitians and orthotists, as needed

Other specialists at the Adult Spina Bifida Clinic include:

Patient Assistance Fund Program

Patient Assistance Funds are available for Pennsylvania residents with Spina Bifida who qualify. To determine your eligibility, you will need to complete and submit an Income Attestation Form (PDF), which we will provide annually and upon request. If you are approved to use the Patient Assistance Funds, we can reimburse you for purchases and expenses related to your health and well-being. After approval, you can submit receipts for reimbursement via mail:

Darcie Ilg, PA-C
UPMC Mercy, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

1400 Locust Street, Suite G103
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

You can also message Darcie via MyUPMC or call 412-232-8909 for more details and any questions.

Mobility Assistance

Our doctors, nurses, and staff understand that mobility is crucial to an independent lifestyle. They work closely with experts at the UPMC Center for Assistive Technology (CAT) to prescribe assistive devices to help you maintain your mobility and independence.

The CAT also makes referrals to vocational, social, and other community services, as needed.

Adult Spina Bifida Clinic Newsletter (PDF)

Additional Resources