Stories about: Carlos Estrada

‘Spina bifida is a diagnosis, not a destiny’

(Photo courtesy of Amanda Kern Photography)

In February, when New Englanders have long since wearied of the icy, mud-caked snow piles, an 11-year-old from Florida is seeing it — in all its splendor — for the first time.

And it’s magical.

“I can’t believe it! I never thought I’d get to see anything like this.”

There is a lot Adam Paul, now 14, wasn’t certain he would see or do.

Adam was born with spina bifida.

“I had to grow up a lot faster,” says Adam. “I had to think — What is going to happen to me? What am I going to have to go through today?

Spina bifida – a term meaning “split spine” – happens when the brain, spinal cord and/or meninges (protective covering around the brain and spinal cord) do not completely develop. It is the most common neural tube defect (NTD) in the U.S.

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Bedwetting treatment starts with open communication

 “He was 8 years old and still wearing diapers. We knew he had a problem.” – Mother of a boy with a bedwetting issue

It really wasn’t difficult to talk about her wetting as she knew something was wrong. We concentrated on making her comfortable and assuring her all would be fine.” – Mother of a young girl with a wetting problem

Urinary incontinence, otherwise known as “enuresis” or “wetting,” is fairly common, often embarrassing and sometimes difficult to talk about it. Of children 6 to 7, about 20 percent of boys and 17 percent of girls have some problem with daytime or nighttime wetting. Still, many kids are reluctant to talk about wetting with parents, friends and teachers. Parents themselves often have a hard time confronting the issue.

The Voiding Improvement Program (VIP) at Boston Children’s Hospital uses noninvasive methods to help children overcome incontinence and other urinary issues, such as urinary tract infections. Treatments can include biofeedback training, Reiki therapy, behavioral therapy and referral for acupuncture. The program’s director, Carlos Estrada, MD, believes that open communication is the essential first step in addressing a wetting issue.

“Kids have a hard time talking about their wetting problems for one obvious reason: It’s embarrassing,” he says. Over time, that embarrassment can build and build. In fact, Estrada explains, for some boys and girls, urinary incontinence “becomes a focal point for a family, and the negative attention results in kids turning inward.”

Watch this video to learn how Boston Children’s offers treatment for bedwetting:

Adding to the embarrassment are feelings of helplessness. Estrada says that wetting the bed at home or having an accident at school or on the playground can trigger these feelings and cause kids to postpone voiding. “Holding too long can lead to an overactive bladder and possibly more serious problems,” Estrada reports.

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