Beyond multidisciplinary care: A new conceptual model for spina bifida services

S. L. Kinsman, E. Levey, V. Ruffing, J. Stone, Lana R Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Medical care for people who are born with spina bifida (myelodysplasia) is complex and challenging, but the goal of such care is to optimize health and function for people with this condition. Despite years of expert agreement that multidisciplinary care is the medical standard for individuals with spina bifida, this model does not seem to go far enough towards accomplishing the goal of improved function as well as health for all people with spina bifida. Advances in the medical and surgical management of people with spina bifida and society's increased desire to include those with disabilities in family and community life has heightened our expectations for functional/participatory improvement for people with this condition. Some large spina bifida programs have added a separate rehabilitation component to the comprehensive package of services offered to people with spina bifida. The problem with adding further services to the traditional multidisciplinary spina bifida program is the increased complexity and potential for fragmentation that it presents, particularly for the patient and family. We performed a MEDLINE literature search to find information on integrating these services. Although several articles address the importance of either the multidisciplinary spina bifida clinic or a rehabilitation approach, there is little information about integration of medical and rehabilitation services. We propose a new model for spina bifida services throughout the life-span that integrates the medical and functional/rehabilitative perspectives. Our model for conceptualizing spina bifida services builds on the WHO framework for coding disability (ICIDH-2). This framework includes not only health and functional perspectives, but a participation dimension as well. Furthermore, our new model emphasizes the importance of anticipatory guidance and transitional planning as an integrating dimension applicable across the lifespan. The model is based on three main conceptual dimensions - comprehensiveness, coordination and longitudinality. We are using the model to create standards of care, integrate services and improve their efficiency, and to develop policies regarding spina bifida services. Through this effort we hope to provide better medical and rehabilitation services to those with spina bifida and meet the complex challenge the condition presents throughout the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-38
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatric Surgery, Supplement
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Multidisciplinary care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spina bifida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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