Tag Archives: spina bifida

Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus

  • Present from birth
  • Often accompanied by hydrocephalus (water on the brain)

Spina Bifida

This condition is caused by a defect in the neural tube which forms the spine, spinal cord and brain.  A gap is left in the vertebrae.  It can present in variations in severity from mild, where only a hair or dimple is seen on the skin to severe where a lump (sac) is seen on the back.  This contains nerves and spinal fluid.  Mobility and continence may be affected in mild forms and will cause paralysis and incontinence in its severe form.


  • Often accompanies spina bifida
  • Can be caused by meningitis, head injury or premature birth

This condition is caused by an obstruction in the flow of fluid around and over the ventricles in the brain.  The problem when it happens in babies causes the head to swell up and enlarge.  This leads to learning difficulties.

Things to look out for:  Children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus often have poorly developed co-ordination and perception.  They have difficulties with the concepts of time and space and also have short term memory problems.  They can also have speech, vision and motor difficulties due to pressure on the brain.

Treatment for hydrocephalus:  A shunt is usually inserted to relieve the pressure in the brain.  The shunts quite often block up.  This can cause the person to become irritable, to have nausea, suffer from inertia and headaches.

Teaching Strategies

People who can help: SENCO/Resource Teacher; Physiotherapist; Occupational Therapist


Further Information