About Spina Bifida

The Spina Bifida Program at CDRC is the state-wide Title V (SCSHCN) and regional specialized clinic for persons living with Spina Bifida throughout the life span. We serve more than 474 children and adults with on-going care.

The team consists of nationally recognized CDRC-based providers as well as Doernbecher subspecialist surgeons. The core team is made up of a Developmental Pediatrician/Child Neurologist, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Physical and Occupational Therapists as well as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner from Pediatric Urology. Other CDRC specialists are available for consultation from several disciplines including Special Education, Psychology, Audiology, and Speech Therapy. Together we address family, community, behavior, education and development issues.The team of subspecialist consultants includes Pediatric Neurosurgery, Pediatric Urology, and Pediatric Orthopedics. Our interdisciplinary team approach assures close communication and coordinated care across the disciplines.

Our specialized services include:

  • Developmental Pediatrics
  • Pediatric Urology
  • Pediatric Neurosurgery
  • Physical Therapy
  • Bowel management
  • Parent-to-parent support
  • Care coordination and life-long continuity
  • Coordination with the Primary Care Provider and other home community providers


Evaluation and Treatment

Our team of nationally recognized providers from the Child Development and Rehabilitation Center (CDRC) provides clinical care and treatment for children with the most challenging disabilities and special health care needs. Because Spina Bifida and Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) are relatively rare, even specialist physicians are often not familiar with the associated acute and chronic medical conditions to be diagnosed and treated in children and adults living with these conditions.Therefore, coordinated interdisciplinary services are imperative. We follow the Guidelines for Spina Bifida Health Care Services throughout the Lifespan. The overall goals of the program are attaining and maintaining optimal health status, preventing secondary disability, maximizing potential to participate in society, and fostering transition to independence.



Dr. Mark Merkens, the former long-time Program Director, served a five-year term on the Professional Advisory Committee of the Spina Bifida Association of America (SBAA). In that capacity, he participated in a national invitational conference entitled "Evidence Based Practice in Spina Bifida: Developing a Research Agenda," where he presented two papers. He is also a member of the Society for Research in Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida, an organization with world-wide membership. Dr. Merkens remains closely involved with the Program as a mentor and advisor.