Spinal Muscular Atrophy Testing

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Also known as SMA, spinal muscular atrophy, is a very serious condition that affects the nerves in the human body. Most commonly, it is the nerves present around the spinal cord area that are affected by SMA. The condition is primarily a hereditary one and causes significant weakness and wastage of the voluntary muscles in the arms and legs of children and infants as well. Depending on the extent of complications, the condition can be categorized into SMA1, 2 or 3. Also spinal muscular atrophy symptoms would vary according to the severity and type of the condition.

The SMA 1 version of the condition is very evident at the birth of the child or within the first few months. Also known as Werding - Hoffman disease, the children suffering from this condition will experience symptoms such as feeble movements of the arms and legs, floppy arms and legs as well as difficulties in swallowing, a weak sucking reflex as well as substantially impaired breathing. In type II, the legs tend to be more affected than the arms of the patient and children affected by this version are usually unable to sit in a certain position without the need for any additional support. However, they may require to be placed in that position originally. Type III will usually develop around the toddler years or even as late as adolescence and even though the patient will be able to stand and walk without any additional support, he or she may require some amount of assistance in getting up from a seated position.

Type I is by far the most severe of the conditions and most babies affected by the condition die within the first few years. The life expectancy for children suffering from SMA Type II and Type III is significantly more gracious. The condition is not a very common one and affects an average of about 4 people in every 100,000. As a result, not too much research had been done previously, but recently there has been a significant surge in the amount of people looking for a cure for this very serious medical condition. As of today, there is no spinal muscular atrophy treatment while no effective therapy that helps repair the damaged nerves has been identified either. In order to arrest the spinal muscular atrophy symptoms, albeit temporarily, the patient suffering from the condition will require respiratory drainage while physiotherapy is an absolute requirement in order to help the muscle retain as much ability as possible.