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Children with spina bifida need personal 'starter'
Date:10/4/2011

Children born with spina bifida often have difficulties to perform everyday activities. This is not primarily due to being confined to a wheelchair or to parental overprotection as was previously believed new research from the University of Gothenburg shows that it is down to an inability to initiate and complete a task towards a specific goal.

Spina bifida is a birth defect in the spine which normally results in a degree of paralysis in the lower part of the body, difficulty controlling the bladder and bowel, and a risk of hydrocephalus Recent research shows that spina bifida often also leads to other neurologically-related problems, such as varying degrees of executive function impairment.

A study of children with spina bifida at the Queen Silvia Children's Hospital and the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg reveals that the majority of these children struggle to "get things done" independently in daily life. This inability affects their autonomy in daily life and their participation in various school situations.

Although both the children themselves and their parents understand that they are capable of performing everyday activities in terms of motor skills, they still do not get done. As many parents put it: "I suppose he/she can do it is somehow just never done"

Previously children with spina bifida were often seen as over-helped due to their loss of motor function, and in some cases the children were even considered lazy. In her thesis, Marie Peny-Dahlstrand, licensed occupational therapist and doctoral student at the Sahlgrenska Academy, can now show that it is not a matter of laziness or reluctance but an inability to independently see activities through from start to finish, initiate new steps in an activity, and resolve problems arising during the course of an activity.

"Children born with spina bifida are probably held back more by this reduced ability to 'get things done' than by their motor difficulties,
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Contact: Marie Peny-Dahlstrand
marie.peny-dahlstrand@neuro.gu.se
46-070-397-6928
University of Gothenburg
Source:Eurekalert

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