How to Effectively Treat and Manage Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Spinal muscular atrophy is a serious medical condition that usually affects babies and children. It is commonly referred to as SMA and develops when a breakdown occurs in the nerve cells within the brain and spinal cord. As a result, the brain stops sending messages that are necessary to control movement of the muscles. A person who suffers from the condition has difficulty moving. The muscles atrophy as a result, and patients may have difficulty sitting, keeping their head upright, or even walking. In severe cases, patients may even have difficulty breathing and swallowing.
It’s important to note that there are different types of SMA: SMA 1 and SMA 2. Knowing which type your child has can help when it comes time to decide on the best SMA treatments for managing the disease. Knowing what causes spinal muscular atrophy syndrome can also help.
What Causes SMA?
Spinal muscular atrophy is a genetic disease. In other words, it can only be passed down through the family. If a child has the condition, it means they inherited two copies of the damaged gene, one from their mother and the other from their father.
When a child has SMA, their body is incapable of producing a certain type of protein, which, in turn, leads to spinal muscular atrophy syndrome. On the other hand, if your child only gets one damaged gene from one parent, it means they will not actually get SMA. However, they will be a carrier of the condition and can potentially pass it on to their own child one day.
Knowing what causes spinal muscular atrophy syndrome can potentially help if you are having a child, or if you already have a child with the condition.
Types of SMA and Their Symptoms
Knowing the differences between SMA 1 vs SMA 2 can help when you are searching for a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy.
SMA 1 is the more severe of the two. A child affected by it may have difficulty supporting their head or even sitting up without assistance. The child may also have flopping arms and legs, and difficulty swallowing or even breathing (in the most severe cases). Sadly, many children who have this illness don’t live past the age of two.
Spinal muscular atrophy clinical trials might prove helpful in giving your child a better chance at managing the condition. If your child struggles with SMA 1 vs SMA 2, it’s important to regularly stay in touch with your family, friends, and medical professionals for support.
SMA 2 affects babies ages sex to 18 months. Symptoms can be anywhere from moderate to severe, and usually affect the legs more than the arms. A child with this condition may be able to sit up, stand, and even walk when they have help. This type of SMA is also known as chronic infantile SMA.
Treatment Options for SMA
There are certain SMA treatments that can help manage the disease. Spinal muscular atrophy clinical trials may be the only option if your child suffers from SMA 1. However, one of the most effective treatments for spinal muscular atrophy syndrome is a medication known as nusinersen or Spinraza, which has slowed the advancement of the condition by around 40 percent. This treatment is administered as an injection into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. The entire procedure, including preparation, can take as long as two hours and there may be multiple shots required to effectively manage spinal muscular atrophy syndrome.
If your child has spinal muscular atrophy, it’s important to not give up. There are options to help them to have as normal a life as possible. Rely on your full support system to give your child the best chance.