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Spinal Cord Clinic

The Spinal Cord Clinic (SCC) serves children from birth to the age of 18 who have a disorder of the spinal cord either due to genetic or traumatic causes.

The SCC is a provincial program (for all of BC and Yukon) that serves children from birth to age 18 who have a disorder of the spinal cord either due to genetic causes such as spina bifida, VACTERL syndrome and others, or due to trauma, infection or related to tumours of the spinal cord. This program was initiated over 30 years ago by Dr. Arnold and Dr. Cochrane to address the many different medical and care needs of children with spina bifida and other spinal conditions.

Spinal cord conditions can affect a person’s bowel, bladder, ability to move and feel, and sometimes even cognition, bone growth, and general development. The areas of need vary somewhat depending on the diagnosis of your child, but generally the conditions are complex and require ongoing monitoring for complications and treatments to optimize your child’s health and daily function.

Patients with a disorder of the spinal cord require a large variety of services. Our group of specialized care providers is able to address your child’s medical needs in a comprehensive manner during one morning visit. This improves the communication and coordination of services and treatments, cuts down on the time you need to take off work or miss school to see various specialists and it provides continuity of care. Clinics run from 8 am to 12 noon every Thursday.


All patients are seen at regular intervals and remain patients in the clinic until they graduate and transition to adult care.


We provide:

  1. A comprehensive assessment of your child’s physical, surgical, social and emotional needs.
  2. We provide regular scheduled follow up and surveillance of bladder, orthopedic and neurological complications that may arise.
  3. We monitor growth and development as it relates to the spinal cord condition.
  4. We communicate and coordinate care with your medical providers in your community, such as family doctor, pediatrician, child development centres, therapists, orthotists and school.
  5. We help with transition to adult care providers.
  6. We work in conjunction with the maternal fetal medicine and medical genetics teams to provide prenatal counselling.
  7. We provide guidance regarding rehabilitation methods and opportunities.

The SCC operates as an interdisciplinary program, which means that we work together as a group of specialists, pediatricians and therapists. The group consists of three pediatric urologists, three neurosurgeons, an orthopedic surgeon, two physiatrists and two pediatricians as well as a nurse, social worker, OT and physiotherapist.


  • Our urology team monitors kidney and bladder health with regular ultrasounds, urodynamics and advises on techniques to manage bladder continence and health. They perform specialized surgeries for continence diversions. They work together with a general surgeon to place anterograde continence stomas and Mitrofanoffs.
  • Our neurosurgical team monitors shunts, neurological changes and will provide surgeries as needed.
  • Our orthopedic surgeon has special expertise in low extremity complications associated with SCI and will offer the necessary surgeries. Spinal deformities are specifically referred to the spine surgeons at BCCH.
  • Our pediatricians will address general growth and developmental concerns as well as advise on bowel management and specific issues related to SCI.
  • Pediatric physiatrists specialize in rehabilitation issues related to SCI and provide monitoring of growth and advise on specific rehab modalities your child may benefit from.
  • Our physiotherapist and orthopedic surgeon work closely together to monitor growth, strength, need for splints and other mobility devices such as walkers or wheelchairs. They work with your community team to optimize therapies.
  • Our occupational therapist (OT) monitors upper extremity use, provides developmental screening, works with the team on school integration and feeding related issues.
  • Our social worker provides social and emotional support for you as a family and your child. Their role includes psychosocial assessments, supportive counseling, connections to funding and practical supports, and liaising with community resources.
  • Our clinic nurse is the coordinator of our team. She is the point of contact for you with clinical concerns. She provides teaching, support and advocacy for your child and family.
  • Our clinic clerk is the point of contact for you for general questions or concerns. She books appointments, ensures follow ups and tests are coordinated and works with the nurse to ensure you get to your appointments at the right time and right place.

We have access to a nutritionist and other specialists as needed. We work with orthotists in the community to make splints and mobility devices.‎

‎Please let us know - a week ahead, if possible - if you are unable to attend so that your appointment time can be used by another patient.

Please contact us as early as possible if you need an interpreter.

Your visit

Preparing for your visit

Check out this video about the clinic and everything you need to know about your visit!! 

What to bring: 

Please bring the following to each clinic visit: 
  • your BC services card (care card)
  • Wheelchair, splints, and any other mobility devices your child needs
  • A list of all medications your child is taking
  • If you have questions, most parents find it convenient to make a list and bring it with them 
  • Have the list of community caregivers so we can communicate with them and they get a copy of the report we generate.
  • Bring water, food, clothing, toys, diapers, etc. to help your children pass the time. 
  • Who should attend: 1 main caregiver 
If you are unsure about what to bring, please call the clinic office.

Day of visit 

Clinic visit time is from 8am -12 noon. During COVID-19, you will stay in one room during that time.
  • Pre-clinic tests such as ultrasounds and x-rays may be needed that day.
  • Please plan to be available until at least 2 pm.


Team recommendations,  copy of report on e-health.
  • Nurse available by phone Tuesday to Thursday

Where to stay if you are from out of town

If you need information on travel assistance and accommodation, please see "Planning Your Visit" under Your Visit (see quick links). 

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