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Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

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This disease is related to speaking, walking, breathing, and swallowing, leading to muscle weakness and atrophy. It is a hereditary disease which affects your above mentioned organs. It slowly and gradually destroys motor neurons and  spinal cord  that is very essential for speaking, breathing and walking. 

The mild SMA takes over 18 months to discover whether a child has it or not. But if the disease is at a severe stage then it can  be noticed within 6 months from the  child’s birth.

You must have noticed some children progressing very slowly or minimal at their gross motor milestones or skills .That is a sign of spinal muscular atrophy.

The symptoms are as following :

  • Eating problems 
  • Breathing problems 
  • Spinal cord problems 
  • Weakening of muscles
  • Delayed gross motor movements

Causes of SMA

 The main cause of this is genetic. If any of your parents have then there are chances your child will suffer from this. Even if they  family someone is diagnosed with it, then  there are higher chances of inheriting it.Most kinds of SMA are caused by a problem with a gene called the SMN1 gene. 

What is does is it destroys the  ability of the motor skills to send signals to the muscles. This is because the gene is unable to make enough protein for the motor neurons to function properly.

Types of spinal muscular atrophy 

There are four types of SMA :

Type 1 :   In this the child is unable to hold his/her head and sit without any help. They  may have swallowing problems too. This  is amongst the most severe one. The most  difficult part is breathing problems. It is heartbreaking to know that children with this condition don’t live past two years because of breathing problems. 

Type 2 : In this your child may be able to sit and walk without help. It ranges from mild to severe depending upon the child’s condition. It affects the children of 6-18 months. It is also called chronic infantile SMA.

Type 3 : It is also  known as Kugelberg-Welander disease or juvenile SMA. This is noticed in the motor skills of the children when they have problems in getting up from the chair, running or climbing stairs. It ranges from mild  to severe and its symptoms start’s when the  child is 2-17 years.

Type 4 : In this usually the upper arms and  legs are  affected. It is seen when become an adult. You face problems in breathing and also muscle weakness. 

Treatment of SMA : 

Diet : Diet plays an important role in any problem. Make sure your child gets all the  required nutrients for the growth and  development of the body. If there are severe swallowing problems then, a swallowing tube can be used. 

Breathing : You can follow breathing exercises to strengthen your lungs. Different mixed exercises and workouts can be done.  In case, of mucus block then it is advisable to use a suction  machine  to clear the throat. 

Spine : If the  problem is severe in spinal  area then  spinal surgery is the option for this. Here  metal  hooks and rods are used  to strengthen the  spinal cord. If the  problem ranges in the mild category then, back brace to help support the back and encourage the spine to grow correctly.

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