Redbridge SERC

Spina Bifida


The term Spina Bifida refers to separation in the bones of the spinal column, exposing nerves.

Physical consequences depend upon the lesion and the amount of damage to the spinal cord.

Bowel and bladder control may be affected.

The cause of Spina Bifida is unclear but the folic acid campaign in the UK has been very effective in reducing the number.

Fact sheets

Training / Help

Newbridge Outreach is happy to provide training relating to Spina Bifida/ Hydrocephalus.

Your School Nurse could be contacted if you require help with your care protocol.


Screenshot for video: Exercise routine for teenagers with Spina Bifida-useful for all wheelchair children

Exercise routine for teenagers with Spina Bifida-useful for all wheelchair children

National Center for Health, Physical Activity and Disability have produced a range video's showing some warm up, aerobic, and stretching exercises- a really useful link to share with PE staff. …

Screenshot for video: Tomcat adapted trikes

Tomcat adapted trikes

Tomcat Trikes in action

Screenshot for video: Stretches for students in a wheelchair before PE

Stretches for students in a wheelchair before PE

A variety of stretches for beginner wheelchair basketball players, but could be usd with students who are in a wheelchair. Always ensure you seek advice for student's physiotherapist if you …

Learning Aids

Please offer me a seat badge

Please offer me a seat badge

Available from:

TfL have recently introduced a badge to help Adults and Children who may have difficulty standing/ waiting on all TfL transport. It is designed to be supportive for hidden disabilities and medical conditions. The badges are free- you do notneed…

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Cranium bifida?

    Cranium bifida

     The bones of the skull do not form correctly. The sac that forms is called an encephalocele.

    This sac can contain cerebro-spinal fluid and in some cases part of the brain, this causes brain damage.

  • What are the physical characteristics of Spina Bifida?

    Spina Bifida can cause

    • paralysis of lower limbs
    • trunk/ hips may dislocate and feet can turn in.
    • loss of sensation in lower half of the body.
    • nerve damage to the bladder, kidney infections are common.
    • bowel paralysis can sometimes occur.
  • How can I include a pupil with Spina Bifida in PE?
    • Exercise promotes circulation, muscle tone, upper body strength and develops general fitness.
    • Ensure pupils wear socks/socks & shoes to prevent skin being damaged.
    • Care to protect head area/shunt — avoid forward rolls and bangs to the head.
    • Many pupils with Spina Bifida can learn to swim very well once they can establish their point of balance.
    • Contact pupil's physiotherapist—they can often join a PE lesson and offer support/ individual adaptations.
  • What is Spina Bifida cystica?

    Spina bifida cystica (cyst like) 

    Meningocele- this is the least common form. A sac containing tissues covers the spinal cord and cerebro fluid. Damage rarely affects function.

  • Are all students who have Spina bifida in a wheelchair?
    • Students who have spina bifida occulta and meningocele spina bifida are generally able to walk.
    • Bladder and bowel control can be late to achieve, or need catheterisation.
    • Pupils who have myelomeningocele spina bifida are likely to use a wheelchair.
  • What is Spina Bifida occulta?

    Spina bifida occulta (hidden) is a very mild, more common form where the outer part of the vertebrae are not formed completely.

  • What are the environmental considerations for students who have Spina Bifida?

    The higher the lesion the greater the area affected so it is important to establish the position of the lesion.

    Pupils with SB will need help to manage mobility & incontinence.

    Assisting the pupil with transferring from chair to floor to wheelchair.

    Some pupils will have to use a catheter to empty their bladder, focus upon developing independence with this task, pupils often achieve this by 8 / 9 yrs.

    Lack of sensation can mean pupils are not aware of pressure sores/ skin damage therefore monitoring of skin on legs and feet is important. Monitor skin condition.

    Pupils should be taught to check their bodies for sores/ broken skin.

    Avoid a pupil with SB sitting next to heat source such as a radiator as pupils can be unaware if their limb is touching the heat source causing burn or scald.

    They should also learn never to sit next to any heat source such as a radiator.

    Plan and risk assess all out of school visits.

    Pupil may need support when sitting on the floor for a length of time.

    Subtle support for care needs, provide space for personal effects in the toilet/ personal bag.

Family Resources

Whizz Kids


Whizz-Kidz is a charity aiming to provide disabled children and young customised mobility equipment, training, advice and life skills.

This Charity provides equipment to children that is not available on the NHS. They also run Wheelchair training courses/ Mobility centres in Dagenham and Havering.

Contact a family


A UK wide charity providing advice, information and support to parents of all disabled children.