This Spina Bifida Awareness Month, we hope to bring attention to this condition and how it affects those with spina bifida. In addition, we’d like to shine a spotlight on Tatyana McFadden, a woman who has proved that people with spina bifida can still achieve amazing things.
What is Spina Bifida?
First, let’s talk about what spina bifida is. Spina bifida is a common congenital disability (or birth defect). This condition occurs when the neural tube doesn’t fully develop or close properly while still in the womb.
Spina bifida can cause a variety of symptoms and issues. These range in severity from difficulty walking to paralysis of limbs.
Other symptoms may include:
- Difficulty with mobility
- Little to no feeling in extremities/limbs, particularly legs and feet
- Bladder and bowel issues, particularly bladder retention or urinary incontinence
Children and adults with spina bifida may require ongoing care. In addition, many people with spina bifida require intermittent catheters to manage their bladder issues.
Celebrating Tatyana McFadden
Tatyana McFadden is living proof that spina bifida doesn’t mean you can’t go on to live a full life. She is a six-time Chicago Marathon champion. In addition, she is a Paralympic track athletic. Also, she lives with spina bifida.
Recently, she appeared on Ellen (Ellen DeGeneres’ television show), where she discussed some of her struggles.
Tatyana grew up in an orphanage in Russia. Because of living with spina bifida, she was paralyzed from the waist down. This meant potential adoptive families often passed her by.
Finally, at the age of six, she moved to Maryland with her new adoptive family. Her new parents encouraged her to get into sports and more physical activity to stay healthy. This is what changed her life, she says.
Today, with hard work, determination, and a positive outlook, Tatyana has become the fastest wheelchair racer of all time, and she has earned seven gold medals. In addition, she has won all four major marathons for wheelchair racing, including the Boston, Chicago, London, and New York marathons. No racer has ever achieved this before.
Tatyana has proven that it is possible to achieve amazing things, despite the odds. People can still live a healthy, accomplished life with spina bifida. Her story can bring awareness about this condition as well as hope to others who live with this condition.
Learn more about spina bifida and its effects on the Spina Bifida Association website.