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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.

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:

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 Resources

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 (UPMC) to make an appointment with a doctor from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.