William O Walker, MD

William O Walker, MD

Neurodevelopmental Pediatrics, Cerebral Palsy Program

On staff since July 2023

Children's Title: Division Chief, Neurodevelopmental Program

Academic Title: Professor, Pediatrics

Research Center: Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development

"I take a "whole child" and a "whole family" view with every visit. Though I can't necessarily explain why a child has a disability, I can help solve practical concerns families have about caring for their child right now. I rarely "cure" or "fix" the disorder, but I can promise the family that I am in it with them for the long haul. I carry around a bag of bells and blocks and crayons, I draw on whiteboards and play tic-tac-toe and I give high (and low) fives multiple times every day and no one thinks that is odd at all. I laugh and cry with the patients and their families and am grateful that I can do both."

  • Patient Testimonials

  • Awards and Honors

    Award Name Award Description Awarded By Award Date
    Seattle Top Doctor - 2019 Seattle Magazine 2019
    SEATTLE'S TOP DOCTOR - 2018 Seattle Magazine 2018
    SEATTLE'S TOP DOCTOR - 2017 Seattle Magazine 2017
    SEATTLE'S TOP DOCTOR - 2016 Seattle Magazine 2016
    Duncan Award Seattle Children's Hospital 2013
    U.S. News Top Doctor U.S. News and World Report 2012
    Seattle Magazine Top Doctor - 2012 Seattle Magazine Top Doctor - 2012 Seattle Magazine 2012
    Robert a. Aldrich Endowed Professorship in Birth Defects and Mental Retardation 2011
    Outstanding Teacher Award University of Washington Pediatric Residency Program 2005
    BG George J Brown Mentor's Cube Madigan Army Medical Center 2000
     Outstanding Teacher Award, Family Practice Residency Program Martin Army Community Hospital Jan 1, 1982
     Resident Essay Competition Winner, Texas Pediatric Society Texas Pediatric Society Jan 1, 1982
    Phi Beta Kappa, Tulane University Tulane University Jan 1, 1975
  • Publications

    Other Publications

    • Sawin KJ, Liu T, Ward E, Thibadeau J, Schechter MS, Soe MM, Walker W, NSBPR Coordinating Committee
      The National Spina Bifida Patient Registry: profile of a large cohort of participants from the first 10 clinics.
      25444012 The Journal of pediatrics, 2015 Feb. : 166(2)444-50.e1
    • Sawin KJ, Liu T, Ward E, Thibadeau J, Schechter MS, Soe MM, Walker W, NSBPR Coordinating Committee
      The National Spina Bifida Patient Registry: profile of a large cohort of participants from the first 10 clinics.
      25444012 The Journal of pediatrics, 2015 Feb. : 166(2)444-50.e1
    • Apkon SD, Grady R, Hart S, Lee A, McNalley T, Niswander L, Petersen J, Remley S, Rotenstein D, Shurtleff H, Warner M, Walker WO Jr
      Advances in the care of children with spina bifida.
      25037124 Advances in pediatrics, 2014 Aug. : 61(1)33-74
    • Cohen AR, Couto J, Cummings JJ, Johnson A, Joseph G, Kaufman BA, Litman RS, Menard MK, Moldenhauer JS, Pringle KC, Schwartz MZ, Walker WO Jr, Warf BC, Wax JR, MMC Maternal-Fetal Management Task Force
      Position statement on fetal myelomeningocele repair.
      24055581 American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 2014 Feb. : 210(2)107-11
    • Doherty D and Walker Jr. WO
      Neural Tube Defects
      Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences, 2nd edition, 2014 : 3360-365
    • Bjornson K, Kobayashi A, Zhou C, Walker W
      Relationship of therapy to postsecondary education and employment in young adults with physical disabilities.
      21552083 Pediatric physical therapy : the official publication of the Section on Pediatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association, 2011 : 23(2)179-86
    • Glew GM, Frey KS, Walker WO
      Bullying update: are we making any progress?
      20810698 Pediatrics in review / American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010 Sept. : e68-74
    • Walker WO Jr
      Discrepancies in health care funding for individuals with special needs.
      21791846 Journal of pediatric rehabilitation medicine, 2010 : 3(3)159-62
    • Shurtleff DB, Walker WO, Duguay S, Peterson D, Cardenas D
      Obesity and myelomeningocele: anthropometric measures.
      21061901 The journal of spinal cord medicine, 2010 : 33(4)410-9 PMCID:PMC2964030
    • Zinner SH, Walker WO
      Chapter 15: Child and Adolescent Development and Behavior
      Oxford American Handbook of Pediatrics, 2009 : 627-662
    • Cardenas DD, Topolski TD, White CJ, McLaughlin JF, Walker WO
      Sexual functioning in adolescents and young adults with spina bifida.
      18164327 Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 2008 Jan. : 31-5
    • Johnson KL, Dudgeon B, Kuehn C, Walker W
      Assistive technology use among adolescents and young adults with spina bifida.
      17194874 American journal of public health, 2007 Feb. : 97(2)330-6 PMCID:PMC1781409
    • Walker WO, Johnson CP
      Chapter 11: Cognitive and Adaptive Disabilities
      Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics: Evidence and Practice, 2007
    • Johnson CP, Walker WO Jr, Palomo-González SA, Curry CJ
      Mental retardation: diagnosis, management, and family support.
      16564466 Current problems in pediatric and adolescent health care, 2006 April : 126-65
    • Davis BE, Shurtleff DB, Walker WO, Seidel KD, Duguay S
      Acquisition of autonomy skills in adolescents with myelomeningocele.
      16542511 Developmental medicine and child neurology, 2006 April : 253-8
    • Johnson CP, Walker WO
      Mental Retardation: Management and Prognosis
      Pediatrics in Review, 2006 : (249-256)
    • Johnson CP, Walker WO, Gonzalez S, Curry CJ
      Mental Retardation: Diagnosis, Management and Family Support
      Current Problems in Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Care, 2006 : 126-165
    • Walker WO, Johnson CP
      Mental Retardation: Overview and Diangosis
      Pediatrics in Review, 2006 : 204 - 212
    • Shurtleff DB, Sobkowiak C, Walker W
      Chapter 25Transition/Separation, Toilet Training and Sexuality
      Neural Tube Defects: from Origin to Treatment, 2005
  • Presentations

    Presentation Title Event Location Date
    Intellectual Disabilities WWAMI Visiting Lectureship Bellingham, WA Dec 1, 2009
    Bowel and Bladder Continence Programs: Improving the Quality of Life 36th National Spina Bifida Conference Orlando, FL Jun 1, 2009
    Beyond Structure and Function: Activity and Participation in Persons with Disabilities Center for Integrative Brain Research Kick-Off Seattle Research Institute, Seattle Jan 1, 2009
  • Research Funding

    Grant Title Grantor Amount Award Date
    Seattle Children’s Hospital Spina Bifida Registry Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention $108,803.00 Oct 1, 2009
    The Relationship of School-Based Therapy Services on Transition to Adulthood American Physical Therapy Association $31,142.00 Jul 1, 2009


Board Certification(s)

Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics

Medical/Professional School

Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA


William Beaumont Army Medical Center, El Paso, TX


William Beaumont Army Medical Center, El Paso, TX

Clinical Interests

Myelomeningocele, hydrocephalus, developmental delay, cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida

Research Description

Currently, there is a particular emphasis on defining effective methods to identify and measure outcomes of specific interventions implemented by a variety of medical providers and disciplines. As part of this effort, serial prospective data collected over the past forty years as part of routine care and maintained in an IRB approved database is being analyzed to establish baseline standards for future comparisons. In conjunction with the Division of Pediatric Urology, the timing and effectiveness of various methods of bowel and bladder management are the current focus. The development of common definitions of continence across several institutions and projects will, hopefully, better establish some common ground for comparison and implementation. There are ongoing discussions with the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery regarding potential overlap with their interest in hydrocephalus, a frequently associated condition in children with neural tube defects. Shunt management and treatment of shunt infections are areas of potential future collaboration. The hope is that these efforts will favorably impact the success of individuals with spina bifida in achieving functional independence and a successful transition to an adult model of care.

The focus of my research efforts is the study and evaluation of neural tube defects and related conditions; it is almost exclusively clinical at this time and represents approximately 10percent of my work effort. In the past several years, I have had the opportunity to participate in both single and multisite projects sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of University Centers on Disability, which have addressed issues related to quality of life, its definition and measurement. This has allowed us to develop networks within the University of Washington (Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Center for Disability Policy and Research) as well as with other institutions (Oregon Health Sciences University, Children?s Hospital Los Angeles). Projects addressing the effect of lesion level on employment status, the economic impact of multidisciplinary clinics, and the accessibility of appropriate technology to this population have been presented and discussed at national and international meetings.

Research Focus Area

Chronic Conditions / Special Health Care Needs