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Famous People with Spina Bifida

There is no single cause of spina bifida nor any known way to prevent it entirely. However, dietary supplementation with folic acid has been shown to be helpful in preventing spina bifida. Read more about Spina Bifida and well known people both past and present who have/had Spina Bifida.

Spina bifida is a developmental birth defect involving the neural tube, incomplete closure of the embryonic neural tube results in an incompletely formed spinal cord.

Spina bifida malformations fall into three categories: spina bifida occulta, spina bifida cystica (myelomeningocele), and meningocele. The most common location of the malformations is the lumbar and sacral areas of the spinal cord.

The lumbar nerves control the muscles in the hip, leg, knee and foot, and help to keep the body erect.

There is no cure for nerve damage due to spina bifida. To prevent further damage of the nervous tissue and to prevent infection, pediatric neurosurgeons operate to close the opening on the back.

Neural tube defects can usually be detected during pregnancy by testing the mother's blood (AFP screening) or a detailed fetal ultrasound. Spina bifida may be associated with other malformations as in dysmorphic syndromes, often resulting in spontaneous miscarriage.

List of Famous People with (and who had) Spina bifida
Rene Kirby - Rene Kirby (born February 27, 1955) is an American film and television actor. Kirby used spina bifida to his advantage when he played his role in shallow Hal, he was also in "Stuck on you" with Matt Damon. He is the living proof that you can lead a productive life even with disabilities.
Van Smith - Smith was always amazed by artform and wanted he himself to be producer of art. Unfortunately he could not accomplish his first artistic goals due to stifness caused by spina bifida. From there he proceeded to earning a degree in fashion and embarked into a career with film maker John Waters. He has also designed successful clothes which have appeared in movies and fashion establishments.
Robert Hensel - Being an international poet and writer, Robert has never let spina bifida come in the way of his artistic mind. "There were many times that my schoolmates would laugh at me and call me names simply because of their lack of understanding of why I was a little different". He was awarded the title of one of the best poets of the 20th century with over 900 publications worldwide and detains the world record at Guiness and Ripley's for the longest non stop wheelie in a weelchair.
Hank Williams, Sr. -Hiram King Williams was born in 1923, in the small unincorporated town of Mount Olive, Georgiana, Alabama. He was named after Hiram I of Tyre, but his name was misspelled as "Hiriam" on his birth certificate. He was born with a mild undiagnosed case of spina bifida occulta, a disorder of the spinal column, which gave him life long pain, a factor in his later abuse of alcohol and drugs. Hank had tried to wrestle down his drinking problem, but career pressures, marital problems, and crippling spinal pain all contributed to make the binges more frequent during 1951. In December he agreed to be operated on, although the operation was not a success.
John Cougar Mellencamp -John Mellencamp, also known as John Cougar and John Cougar Mellencamp, (born October 7, 1951) is best known for being an American rock singer-songwriter. As a child in Seymour, IN, Mellencamp had suffered a number of setbacks, including being born with a neural tube defect called spina bifida that necessitated a lengthy hospitalization as a baby. As a teenager, he was rebellious, often getting in trouble with the law. He formed his first band at the age of 14, and continued to play throughout his teens.
Paul Monette - (October 16, 1945, Lawrence, Massachusetts - February 10, 1995, Los Angeles, California) was an American author, poet, and activist best remembered for his essays about gay relationships and later, his battle with AIDS. His brother Robert was born with spina bifida and suffered life-threatening illnesses as a child. Paul decided he would need to live an exemplary life to compensate for his brother's illness.
Jean Driscoll - Jean was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that resulted in the improper development of her spine. She is a world-renowned athlete who is also making an impact as a professional speaker. Her motivational and powerful presentations have been lauded by CEO's of corporate and non-profit enterprises, the U.S. government, and all levels of the education system. The Boston Marathon added a wheelchair division for women in 1977. The record for most repeated championships stands at 8, held by Jean Driscoll in the Women's Wheelchair division.
Bruce Payne -Bruce Martyn Payne (born November 22, 1960 in London, England) is an English actor and producer. Payne's first major film role in 1982 with Michael Blakemore's Privates On Parade in which he played the singing and dancing Flight Sergeant Kevin Cartwright. At the age of 14 he was diagnosed with a slight form of Spina Bifida. At age 16 he had a two year ordeal with Spina Bifida which required surgery to rectify. Bruce was held up in his hospital bed for 6 months after conquering the possibility of becoming paralysed.
Frida Kahlo - (July 6, 1907 - July 13, 1954) was a Mexican painter, who has achieved great international popularity. She painted using vibrant colors in a style that was influenced by indigenous cultures of Mexico as well as European influences that include Realism, Symbolism, and Surrealism. Kahlo contracted polio at age six, which left her right leg looking thinner sometimes than the other (a deformity Kahlo hid by wearing long skirts). It has also been conjectured that she also had spina bifida that would have affected both spinal and leg development.
Judy Woodruff - Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Woodruff served as the chief White House correspondent for NBC from 1977 to 1982, and covered Washington for The Today Show from 1982 - 83. She is the parent of three children including a son born with severe spina bifida. Her husband is Al Hunt, formerly of CNN and The Wall Street Journal, now Executive Editor of the Bloomberg News Washington, D.C, bureau.
 Buddy Winnett- Horse Jockey and trainer; legally blind and spina bifida. Born in West Virginia to a large family, Winnett was diagnosed with spina bifida, and wasn't expected to live past the age of 6. As he grew older, he dreamed of joining the Army or playing sports. But at the age of 12, an accident took one of his eyes, and he thought all of his dreams had been taken from him.
 Gilbert M. Gaul - Gil has twice been awarded the Pulitzer Prize and has been a finalist on four other occasions. Most recently he was part of the reporting team that identified more than $15 billion in waste, fraud and abuse in the nation's farm subsidy programs, a series that was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer for public service. From birth his son Cary Gaul was rushed to a children's hospital where he was operated on several times for problems related to spina bifida. Doctors believed he would not walk at all, but as time went along, Cary proved them all wrong. With the help of braces and walkers, along with a strong will, he was able to gradually take more steps.
 Jay Bradford Fowler - born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 7, 1951. In 1987, he received a Bachelor of Arts in English at George Mason University where he was editor of Phoebe-The George Mason Review. He was born with spina bifida where the spinal column does not close properly. Instead, part of the spinal cord protrudes, which can result in fluid on the brain or other neurological disorders. Fowler has paralysis below the waist. He could walk as a youngster, but he underwent eight operations by the time he was in high school. Fowler was also treated for degenerative arthritis throughout the 1990s.


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