Spina Bifida and Receiving Social Security DisabilitySpina bifida comes from the Latin meaning split or open spine. Spina bifida is a developmental birth defect that involves the neural tube. Incomplete closure of the embryonic neural tube results in an incompletely formed spinal cord. In addition to this, the vertebrae overlying the open portion of the spinal cord do not fully form and remain open and unfused. This allows the abnormal portion of the spinal cord to stick out through the opening in the bones. There may or may not be a fluid filled sac surrounding the open spinal cord. Spina bifida is divided into three categories: spina bifida occulta, spina bifida cystica (myelomeningocele) and meningocele. The most common location of the malformations is the lumbar and sacral areas of the spinal cord. Myelomeningocele is the most serious form of the disorder. It is the kind that leads to disability in most of the people affected with the conditions. The terms spina bifida and myelomeningocele are usually used interchangeably. The effects of spina bifida vary depending on the type and extent of the spinal defect. Spina bifida occulta is the mildest form of the disorder. Usually, there are no symptoms with this type of spina bifida, and no treatment is needed. In fact, many people with this kind of spina bifida do not even know that they have it. However, some effects can show up later in life. With spina bifida cystica (myelomeningocele) there is the obvious spinal deformity. The unfused portion of the spinal column allows the spinal cord to protrude through an opening in the overlying vertebrae. The meningeal membranes that cover the spinal cord may or may not form a sac enclosing the spinal elements. There is usually some degree of paralysis and loss of sensation below the level of the spinal cord defect. There are other effects of spina bifida. These include:
- Loss of sensation
- Ambulatory problems
- Loss of muscle tone
- Deformities of the knees, feet or hips
- Intense pain
- Problems with bladder and bowel control
- An abnormality of the cerebellum, that part of the brain that plays a significant role in integrating motor control and sensory perception.