Liddle Kidz Foundation | The Leader in Infant and Pediatric Massage and Touch Therapies.
The Learning Channel
Liddle Kidz | Bringing Home Baby | TLC
Newsletter Articles Community Teacher Directory
Infant Massage and Pediatric Massage Photos from various training for Parents and Professionals
About Education and Training Speaking Calendar Store
> Home > Articles by Tina Allen > Massage for Spina Bifida

Massage for Spina Bifida

by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated April 2016

What is Spina Bifida?

Spina Bifida is a birth defect of the central nervous system, where the bones of the spine do not completely form, leaving part of the spinal cord exposed.  When a child is born with spina bifida, they have an opening in the spine. A healthy spine is closed to protect the spinal cord (the bundle of nerves that sends messages back and forth between your brain and the rest of your body). Because of the opening in the spine, the nerves of the spinal cord may be damaged. A spinal cord that's damaged may not be able to fully and accurately send messages from the brain to other parts of the body.



Types of Spina Bifida

There is not only one type of spina bifida.

One kind of spina bifida can go unnoticed - spina bifida occulta.  With this diagnosis, the opening in the person's back is covered by muscle and skin and the spinal cord is usually normal. There may be some problems with the spine, or there may be no apparent problems at all.

A second type of spina bifida is known as meningocele.  This involves the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningocele is the diagnosis given when only the meninges, not the nerves, push through the opening in the vertebrae. The spinal cord can be normal and a person with a meningocele usually has no problems. A person with meningocele may need to have surgery to prevent further nerve damage later.

The most commonly known diagnosis under the Spina Bifida umbrella is myelomeningocele.  In this diagnosis, the baby is born with a sac protruding from the opening in the spine. This sac contains nerves and part of the spinal cord. About 1 in 1,000 babies born in the United States have this type of spina bifida.

A child with myelomeningocele will have some paralysis as the spinal cord hasn't developed normally and some nerves may have been damaged.  They will have loss of feeling in their lower extremities (legs). The severity of paralysis will vary, depending on where the opening is on the back. The lower down the back the opening is, the fewer nerves are affected and the less paralysis there is. Children will also have symptoms consisting of partial loss of feeling, sensitivity and muscular function in the lower extremities.  Many times they become wheelchair bound due to their diagnosis.


Massage for Spina Bifida

When considering massage for spina bifida, it is important to provide massage therapy for the lower extremities.  Children with Spina Bifida benefit from receiving tactile stimulation on their lower extremities, not only for the circulatory benefits, but also for the emotional benefits.  With all children who may have decreased sensitivity or loss of feeling in an area, there is no reason to avoid such areas.

Pediatric massage therapy has also been shown to speed myelination which is important for proper nervous function.  Massage can help alleviate pain and tension in muscle tissue. If the child is wheelchair bound, massage can help loosen muscles that can become rigid from staying in one position for long periods of time. Depending on the child’s symptoms and diagnosis of spina bifida, you may wish to avoid, or use great care, in the lumbosacral area.

Massage techniques that may be useful in providing therapeutic pediatric massage to children affected by spina bifida include gentle, nurturing touch (Swedish massage techniques) and placing warm hands and holding rather than stroking can also provide needed tactile stimulation and skin-to-skin contact.  
Through the use of pediatric massage therapy, children with spina bifida may experience improved physical and emotional health.


Now Let's Talk about how the Liddle Kidz Foundation can  make a postive impact on your life!


Specially trained Certified Pediatric Massage Therapists

lkf-cpmt-logo-144pxMassage may be a supportive therapy that can be readily applied, most effectively by specially trained massage therapists or by parents who have learned massage techniques from a skilled, educated massage therapist.   Pediatric massage and nurturing touch are the most appropriate massage techniques to use in this population. When using massage therapy for children with cancer, your work does not need to be aggressive to achieve its maximum potential.

For more information visit Comprehensive Pediatric Massage Training Course (CPMT)



(If you would like to republish the above article, please e-mail your request and where it will reside to, and we will send you a short bio you can use with it for your site.)

Print this article |  Please consider the environment before you do so - Thanks

Testimonials | Liddle Kidz Foundation
Children are our Greatest Gift and Should be Treated with Extraordinary Care!  Liddle Kidz Foundation
Liddle Kidz Foundation | A Work of Heart

©2005 - 2020 Liddle Kidz® Foundation | nonprofit educational organization

All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy/Terms Conditions Use | Contact Us

YouTube Facebook Contact

Internationally Accredited

Liddle Kidz Touch Tour Bus

View Calendar

Host a Liddle Kidz Professional Training in your City  |  Any Country Pediatric Massage Certification
Infant Massage Certification Touch Therapy for Children with Autism
Touch Therapy for Children with Cancer Touch Therapy for Children with Cerebral Palsy
Touch Therapy in the NICU Recent Popular Pediatric and Infant Massage Articles by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Liddle Kidz Professional Trainings & Courses Calendar Host a Liddle Kidz Professional Training in your City  |  Any Country

Join the Liddle Kidz
E-Newsletter for info & training announcements.


Organizations & Affiliates

Mayo Clinic

Each One Counts Foundation

ABMP | Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals

NAEYC | The National Association for the Education of Young Children

NCBTMB | National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork


Liddle Kidz is World-Wide

USA (Main Office)

Liddle Kidz
PO Box 872664
Vancouver, WA 98687

Tel: (001) 818-209-1918
Fax: (001) 818-975-KIDZ (5439)

Twitter YouTube Facebook Contact