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Secondary Medical Conditions Associated With Spina Bifida: Effects on Nerves and Function, Ambulation -- SHNIC Educators Information

As previously mentioned, students with spina bifida do not have normal nerve development and function below the level of the lesion in the spinal cord. The higher up the spinal cord that the lesion occurs, the greater the paralysis. Although a student with spina bifida may have partial or complete paralysis, she may still be able to walk with a variety of assistive devices as indicated below.

  • Level S2-S4: Often walk without aids; may need shoe inserts
  • Level L5-S1: Short leg braces; may need crutches or cane
  • Level L4: Braces (above or below knee); may use crutches or canes; may use wheelchair when older
  • Level L2-L3: Long leg braces with crutches; when older, may limit walking and use wheelchair for long distances
  • Level L1: Long leg braces with band around the waist; crutches; wheelchair for any distances
  • Level T12 and above: Braced for short distances; walker or crutches; wheelchair for most activities

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