Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a genetic disease that causes gradual muscle wastage. Patients with SMA will have professionals from various health services as part of their healthcare team, including physical therapists.
According to the American Physical Therapy Association, physical therapists will provide an essential service that focuses on therapeutic exercises, strengthening exercises and improving development skills.
Therapeutic exercises help children maintain and improve their mobility. These exercises can slow down the progression of contractures (loss of joint movement) and respiratory failure. These will be tailored to the child’s needs, depending on the severity of their SMA.
The goal of strengthening exercises is to help slow down the deterioration of muscle strength and prolong independent movement. The physical therapist will work with the child to design a range of exercises that will help keep the child moving and as active for as long as possible. The exercises can also be performed with the help of the parents or caregivers and will often incorporate games to make it fun for everyone.