Living with Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a congenital condition affecting the spinal cord, primarily identified at birth, disrupting the normal development of the spine. Those with spina bifida often experience complications involving mobility and bowel and bladder functions, depending on the severity of their condition. Management approaches range from surgeries to physiotherapy, and ongoing medical attention might be necessary to address various challenges such as mobility impairments and urinary incontinence.

challenges for patients

The challenges faced by individuals with spina bifida are multifold. Many confront daily struggles with mobility, requiring assistive devices like braces or wheelchairs. Another significant challenge is managing urinary and bowel dysfunctions. Some people with spina bifida may experience urinary incontinence or retention, impacting their quality of life considerably. These challenges can extend beyond the physical, with psychological and emotional repercussions, potentially affecting overall mental well-being and interpersonal relationships.


For those grappling with urinary issues due to spina bifida, catheters represent a critical solution. Intermittent catheters, used as required to empty the bladder, are commonly suggested. Hydrophilic catheters, like the GentleCath Glide, can offer smoother, low-friction insertion and removal, providing comfort for those experiencing sensitivity. This is especially useful for individuals with spina bifida who might have heightened sensitivity due to their condition.

In severe cases of urinary retention or incontinence, indwelling (Foley) catheters may be required. However, their use can lead to complications such as urinary tract infections, and thus, all aspects and risks associated with them should be thoroughly discussed with a healthcare provider. Balancing autonomy and medical assistance is key in managing the multifaceted challenges of living with spina bifida, while ensuring the attainment of the highest possible quality of life.