Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a hereditary condition, affecting the neuromuscular system and causing atrophy which is the wasting of the muscles. SMA worsens with the passage of time and leads to movement issues and weakness. As there is no known cure for SMA at the present time, treatment focuses on reducing the incidence and severity of symptoms.
Most incidences of SMA only occur in children where both parents are carriers of the faulty gene. The particular faulty gene that causes SMA is more common than you might imagine, with an estimated 1 in each 40 to 60 people carrying it. Where both parents are carriers, the chance of a child having SMA stands at 25%; the chance that they will be a carrier or will not have SMA is also 25%.
Though there are a number of different forms of SMA, the most common is referred to as 5q SMA. As this condition affects people at numerous levels of severity, it is regarded as a spectrum disorder. 5q SMA occurs as one of four types. These are:
- Type 1. Occurring in infants less than six months old, Type 1 SMA is the most severe. Sadly, the seriousness of breathing issues associated with this type of SMA mean that babies often do not survive for more than a few years.
- Type 2. Less severe than Type 1, 5q SMA Type 2 develops in infants from 7 to 18 months of age. Most infants with Type 2 SMA survive well into adulthood.
- Type 3. The least severe type to affect children, Type 3 SMA is found in babies older than 18 months. It does not usually have an impact on life expectancy.
- Type 4. Affecting adults, Type 4 usually only results in mild symptoms. Like Type 3, this type is not usually associated with reduced life expectancy.
As a spectrum disorder, SMA causes a wide range of symptoms, which typically include:
- Hypotonia (floppy, weak limbs)
- Movement problems like difficulty crawling, standing and walking
- Tremors (twitching and shaking of the muscles)
- Joint and bone problems such as scoliosis (spinal curvature)
- Problems with swallowing and breathing
There are various ways to help manage and mitigate the symptoms caused by SMA, one of which is the wearing of Sensory Dynamic Orthosis (SDO®) compression garments from Jobskin®. There are a variety of garments available to help manage the above symptoms, these include body suits, vests, socks, sleeves and more. You can find out more details about the SDO® collection on our website or by getting in touch with our dedicated clinical team. If you need any further support or information about SMA, please visit the Spinal Muscular Atrophy charity's website.