Adult Care

Q: I am 18 years old and need to find a doctor. What do I do?

A: You are now legally an adult and will be able to make your own decisions about your health care. In searching for adult-oriented doctors, there are some things to consider: Everyone should have a primary care physician to go to with common illnesses that anyone can get, as well as health maintenance care like immunizations, cholesterol screening, and blood pressure checks. For you, the best type of primary care adult medicine doctor is most likely a family medicine physician because they are familiar with Spina Bifida. You need a urologist who treats neurogenic bladders and, if you have a shunt, a neurosurgeon. As an adult, since you have stopped growing, you are less likely to need frequent care by an orthopedic surgeon or to have new bone issues requiring surgery. However, you would benefit from a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist (also known as a physiatrist) who can help with musculoskeletal issues, as well as with bracing, wheelchair, and other equipment assessments. A physiatrist can also help with physical therapy and occupational therapy referrals, if needed. They can also help you find an orthopedist if a surgical issue arises. If you are a woman and are contemplating having children, it is best to discuss all of the issues of a potential pregnancy with an obstetrician who specializes in high-risk deliveries. You should meet with this sub-specialty obstetrician before you become pregnant.