5 Treatments to Help Manage SMA

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by Wendy Henderson |

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While there is currently no cure for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), there are ways to manage the disease to improve the quality of life for the patients. Here are some of the treatments available for SMA patients according to the UK National Health Service.

1. Exercise


Exercise is extremely important for SMA patients to help keep the joints flexible, maintain circulation, prevent muscle shortening, and increase movement range. However, the amount of exercise a patient can handle will vary greatly depending on the severity and type of the condition. Most SMA patients will need the help of a physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

Regular exercise is believed to protect motor neurons in spinal muscular atrophy animal study. Read more here. 

2. Assistive Equipment


Most spinal muscular atrophy patients will need equipment of some sort, particularly to help them get around. Those with milder types may only need walking frames, whereas those with type I or II will need electric wheelchairs.

Exoskeleton lets children with SMA walk for the first time. Find out more. 

3. Feeding Equipment


If an SMA patient has difficulty swallowing they may need to have a feeding tube fitted so they get can all the vital nutrients. Infants with SMA may need different formulas to help with digestive problems.

Watch a touching documentary about 11-year-old SMA patient, Philly.

4. Breathing Support


Breathing exercises can be helpful for SMA patients to avoid respiratory infections. For severe cases of spinal muscular atrophy, the patient may need assistance with breathing and have to use oxygen through a mask or tube. Suction machines are also available for those who have difficulty swallowing.

SMA patients are advised to have a flu jab each year to prevent respiratory infections.

Here are 10 tips to get you through cold and flu season. 

5. Spinal Treatments


Children with SMA are at risk of curvature of the spine or scoliosis. To prevent this, a brace may be fitted or the child may have to undergo surgery, including having spinal rods inserted if they are still growing, or a spinal fusion using bone grafts if they are older.

Read more about spinal muscular atrophy and scoliosis here. 

SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.