Similar to National Neurosurgery Awareness Month, Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness month falls during the month of August every year. While these two are related due to their affects on the nervous system, there are many other aspects of Spinal Muscular Atrophy that should be highlighted.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a genetic disorder that affects the part of the nervous system dealing with voluntary muscle movement. In this case, the muscles do not receive signals from the nerves, creating the atrophy portion of the disease. Atrophy means getting smaller, which is what happens when the nerves do not tell the muscles to be active. SMA is caused by a deficiency of a motor neuron protein called SMN (survival of motor neuron). This protein is necessary for motor neuron function, and therefore muscle function as well. The lack of SMN is caused by a genetic mutation/flaw.
Symptoms of SMA can vary due to age and other factors. It usually starts with weakened muscles and motor functions and worsens with time. However, the severity of the symptoms and the timeline also vary from case to case. Sadly, most infants with SMA typically do not survive more than 2 years after symptoms are noticed.
Currently, research for SMA has focused on strategies to increase the body’s production of SMN protein for those who lack it. Some research has led to the production a medication that can potentially help slow down and reduce the symptoms of SMA, or even reverse them entirely. The month of August is meant to raise awareness about this painful genetic disorder and assist in gaining more funding for research or more support for patients and the research in general.
Here at Elements Massage we believe it is important to know about important issues such as these, especially when our therapies and practices of massage can help. Massage therapy on weak and atrophied muscles can have multiple therapeutic effects and benefits. It can increase blood supply and nutrition to the muscle tissue by increasing the circulation and dilation of blood vessels. This also can prevent the adhesions of muscle fibers and increase muscle tissue metabolism. The increased blood flow leads to an increase in red blood cells and nutrients, which optimizes muscle growth and delays atrophy.
If you know someone with Spinal Muscular Atrophy give them the gift of a massage and become more educated on the topic. We have attached a link that better describes this genetic disorder and the research that is currently surrounding it. Help support patients with this disease and support the continuing research as well.