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Physical Therapy for Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Physical Therapy is the treatment of disease and injury by mechanical means such as exercise, heat, light, massage and electricity.
Goals: Maximize function, mobility, safety, and comfort

PT assists you in walking, transfers from one place to another, exercise, pain relief and education for you and your family.

Exercise: helps maintain joint movement, mood elevation and improves sleep patterns.

Stretching: to preserve or increase flexibility
-Active: you do the stretching by yourself
-Active assisted: you do part of stretching yourself and someone helps you at the end of the motion
-Passive: a caregiver moves your arms and legs for you. Take the extremity to the point where there is resistance and stop there. Do not push too hard at the end of the motion. There may be a stretching sensation at the end of the motion, however it should not be significantly painful.

Strengthening: does not change the progression of the disease. Too much can actually over fatigue the muscle. Active exercise within the limits of your disease in important to maximize your ability and prevent disuse and contractures.

Avoid activities that cause muscle or joint pain and excessive fatigue either during or after your exercise program. Energy conservation is needed so that you do not over work body areas of increased weakness and cause overuse syndromes and more pain, weakness etc.


1.Braces: AFO (ankle-foot-orthosis) foot drop brace-lightweight plastic brace, which fits into your shoe and gives your foot and ankle support, KAFO (knee-ankle-foot orthosis) usually made of plastic with metal joints and uprights, supports the ankle and knee.

2.Walker-gives the most assistance for balance and walking. Wheels are needed either on the front two legs or on all four legs. Large wheeled walkers with brakes and a seat are a good choice for stability. Push down (instead of squeeze type) brakes work better for people who have hand weakness.

3. Standing frame-to allow standing and weight bearing -also gives trunk control if needed. A start for ambulation ..progressing to KAFOS

4. Hand Splints: custom made and are usually worn at night to keep the wrist and fingers in a good position and to help prevent contractures.

5. Wheelchair: needs to be evaluated by PT/OT-options to consider -manual and /or power -elevating leg rests
-adjustable height arms
-padded supportive back
-seat cushion
-tilt in space and/or recline system
-tray to assist with activities of daily living and for upper extremity support

6. Transfers:
- sit to stand
-transfer board -standard or Be-easy Board
-Hoyer lift
- Easy pivot lift
-Sure hands lift system

7. Home Care: assistance with adapting your home environment and getting the correct equipment for your situation.



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