As part of a multi-disciplinary team in the management of spinal muscular atrophy, physical therapists often recommend the following:
Physical therapists design exercise programs to increase muscle strength and improve balance in order to achieve independence in simple things such as walking, rolling, and sitting. A home exercise program is also provided to patients.
These include devices that assist the patient to move around with some degree of assistance. Orthotic devices may be custom designed based on the specifications of the physical therapist. Orthotics help align joints and muscles in an appropriate position and encourage independence.
3. Aquatic Therapy
Exercises in a swimming pool tend to be fun and relaxing for patients, especially children. The effect of buoyancy provides an ideal environment for a safe and supervised exercise program.
4. Weight Bearing Exercises
This involves the use of a patient's natural body weight to provide resistance to joints and muscles. Several exercises to improve upper body, lower body, abdominal and lower back strength can be performed without using any equipment.
5. Chest Physical Therapy
Normally, muscles that lie between the ribs (called intercostal muscles) tend to be weak in children with SMA. As a result, the cough reflex may be inhibited. Physical therapy can help prevent chest infections. Physical therapists will train parents to place their children in certain positions to help get rid of secretions. In addition, they may perform certain measures that will enable the child to cough out secretions with minimal effort.
6. Advanced Techniques
Physical therapists may use advanced techniques like proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation and manual therapy to encourage movement and muscle control. Helping the body learn (or rediscover) movement patterns is the foundation of recovery for individuals with spinal injuries.