Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The current study examined neuropsychological performance among children with spina bifida (SB) to determine if there are distinct subgroups or "profiles" of cognitive functioning. 96 children with SB myelomeningocele (ages 8-15) completed a brief assessment battery. Hierarchical and non-hierarchical cluster analyses were used to identify and confirm a cluster solution. Hypothesized predictors of cluster membership included lesion level, number of shunt surgeries, history of seizures, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, family stress, and family environment. Outcomes included independence, academic success, expectations for the future, and quality of life.

Ward's cluster method indicated a 3-cluster solution, and was replicated with 2 other cluster methods. The following labels were applied to the clusters: "Average Cognitive Ability, Impaired Motor" (n=39), "Average Cognitive Ability" (n=32), and "Extremely Low to Borderline" (n=25). SES and shunt status significantly predicted group membership. Cluster membership significantly predicted independence, academic success, parent expectations for the future, and child reported physical quality of life.

Cluster analyses identified 3 distinct cognitive profiles with different patterns of cognitive strengths and weaknesses. These clusters proved to distinguish the groups on future outcomes as well. Findings from this study highlight the variability in cognitive profiles among children with SB. Clinical implications and future research are discussed.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.