Spinal muscular atrophy is a genetic disorder that affects the control of muscle movement. It is caused by a loss of specialized nerve cells, called motor neurons, in the spinal cord and the part of the brain that is connected to the spinal cord (the brainstem). The loss of motor neurons leads to weakness and wasting (atrophy) of muscles used for activities such as crawling, walking, sitting up, and controlling head movement. In severe cases of spinal muscular atrophy, the muscles used for breathing and swallowing are affected. There are many types of spinal muscular atrophy distinguished by the pattern of features, severity of muscle weakness, and age when the muscle problems begin.
HOW IS SPINAL MUSCULAR ATROPHY DIAGNOSED?
A diagnosis usually comes only after the child undergoes several tests that rule out other diseases that cause similar symptoms. These tests usually include:
• nerve conduction tests, such as an electromyogram (EMG)
• computed tomography (CT) scan
• magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
• muscle tissue biopsy
HOW IS SPINAL MUSCULAR ATROPHY TREATED?
There is no pharmacological treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, only symptomatic care can be provided. Orthopedic surgery to correct the spine may be performed on children above the age of 10. Orthotic devices can be used for supporting mobility. Respiratory care is provided through ventilator
DID YOU KNOW?
Though this problem happens mostly in children especially around the age of one years, there is a possibility that adults over the age of 30 get it to.