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coloradoSpina bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect that is associated with life. Each year approximately 1,400 babies born in the United States have spina bifida, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Spina bifida, usually apparent at birth, is a type of neural tube defect in which the neural tube does not completely close during development in the womb resulting in damage to the spinal cord and nerves.

Until recent years, spina bifida was primarily considered a pediatric problem. With the success of innovative healthcare, there are now more individuals with this condition living healthy adult lives. This creates a unique need for care in the adult healthcare system. UAB helps meet those needs by providing care as one of the only adult spina bifida clinics in the southeastern United States.

The UAB Adult Multidisciplinary Spina Bifida Clinic, housed in UAB Spain Rehabilitation Center, is a collaboration between Neurosurgery, Urology, and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. This specialty clinic offers comprehensive care by providing three specialties crucial to maintaining optimal health for adults with spina bifida, all in one clinic visit. While onsite, patients also have access to radiology, social work, neuropsychology, wheelchair seating and repairs, physical and occupational therapy, orthotics and prosthetics, wound care, and plastic surgery.

Danielle Powell, M.D. has been the clinic’s Medical Director since 2012. “Our team strives to provide excellent care while also researching how these efforts affect the quality of life for our patients, their families, and their futures,” shared Powell.

In 2020, the Spina Bifida Association designated the UAB Adult Spina Bifida Clinic as one of the first Clinic Care Partners. This honor is bestowed on clinics who have met 10 standards of best practice in caring for individuals with spina bifida. This clinic opened in 2012 and works closely with a similar team at Children’s of Alabama, allowing for a smooth transition from pediatric clinic into adult care around the age of 21.

The clinic’s team includes Danielle Powell, M.D., Medical Director, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Tracey Wilson, M.D., Urology, Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery; Ashley Donahue, C.R.N.P., Urology; Jeffrey Blount, M.D., Pediatric Neurosurgery; Tiffany Gualandi, RN, Clinic Coordinator; and Betsy Hopson, MSHA, Children’s of Alabama Spina Bifida Program Director.