Cognitive function and performance of everyday activities in adults with spina bifida


  • Dorothee Riedel Spinalis Foundation, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Göran Hagman
  • Dido Green
  • Sofi Fristedt



disability evaluation, intellectual disability, cognitive function, activities of daily living, spina bifida


Background and objective: Individuals with spina bifida often have cognitive impairments leading to difficulties in education and daily activities. The aims of this study were to explore cognitive impairments in adults with spina bifida and to consider associations between impairments, educational outcome and performance of daily activities, comparing individuals with and without intellectual disability.

Methods: Data were collected on 35 adults with spina bifida via cognitive tests and Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS). Participants were divided into 3 groups: individuals without intellectual disability who completed compulsory education (NID-C); those without intellectual disability, who failed to successfully pass compulsory education (NID-F); and those with intellectual disability failed to successfully pass compulsory education (ID-F).

Results: All individuals with intellectual disability failed to successfully pass compulsory education (group ID-F) and had poorer scores across almost all measures than group NID-F and significantly poorer scores than group NID-C. All except 6 individuals scored below cut-off levels for effort and safety on both AMPS motor and process scales; more significant associations were seen between the cognitive tests and the motor rather than process scale.

Conclusion: Cognitive impairments, irrespective of intellectual disability, impact on the performance of everyday activities and on educational achievement, and thus need to be considered in assessments and interventions to improve outcomes and promote independence in people with spina bifida.


Lay Abstract

Individuals with spina bifida often have cognitive impairments, resulting in difficulties in performing their everyday life activities at home, in education, training and social life. These difficulties are often not recognized, and the individuals do not receive the support they need from society. This study investigated the relationship between cognitive impairments, school achievements and performance of daily life activities of 35 adults with spina bifida. The study examined whether individuals had an intellectual disability, and whether they had completed compulsory education, and compared this with their cognitive function and performance in everyday activities. The results confirm that individuals with cognitive impairments, even those without intellectual disabilities, often have considerable difficulties in school achievements, and performance of daily life activities, reducing their ability to live independently.


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How to Cite

Riedel, D., Hagman, G., Green, D., & Fristedt, S. (2021). Cognitive function and performance of everyday activities in adults with spina bifida. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 53(9 (September), jrm00225.



Original Report