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Spinal Muscular Atrophy Clinic Offers Innovative, Family-Centered Care

The care team at Arkansas Children’s Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Clinic provides excellent family-centered care for children with SMA. Spinal muscular atrophy is a genetic, progressive disease that affects the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement. SMA is a motor neuron disease and involves the loss of nerve cells, called motor neurons, in the spinal cord.

Understanding Symptoms of SMA

Children with SMA experience a broad spectrum of symptoms, from mild to severe. The primary symptom is a weakness in the voluntary muscles closest to the center of the body, including the:

  • Hips
  • Shoulders
  • Thighs
  • Upper back

If the muscles used for breathing and swallowing are affected by SMA, there can be complications or abnormalities in these functions that need to be addressed. Additionally, spinal curvatures can develop if the back muscles weaken. Our expert SMA team is able to evaluate any and all medical issues associated with your child’s SMA condition. Also, as a dedicated children’s hospital, we have the resources and clinical expertise of any pediatric specialty needed – all under one roof.    

Confirming an SMA Diagnosis

Your Arkansas Children’s doctor will make sure appropriate medical evaluations are implemented to confirm an accurate diagnosis. These evaluations and tests may include:

  • Clinical examination
  • Electromyogram
  • Genetic tests
  • Laboratory tests
  • Muscle biopsy
  • Nerve conduction velocity test
  • Serum enzyme tests

Because many neuromuscular diseases – including SMA – are genetic diseases, knowledge of other individuals in the family who have similar symptoms or have been diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease can help to establish and/or confirm a diagnosis.

Novel Treatments Offer Hope to Patients with SMA

Arkansas Children’s is the first medical center in Arkansas to offer Spinraza®, the first FDA-approved drug to treat children and adults with SMA. Spinraza® is designed to treat the fundamental defect in SMA, which means this treatment potentially may be effective at slowing, stopping or perhaps reversing the symptoms of SMA.

Multidisciplinary Approach to SMA Management

For families, the multidisciplinary approach to care offered at Arkansas Children’s Spinal Muscular Atrophy Clinic means they will receive comprehensive diagnosis and treatment from health care specialists from a variety of disciplines all at one location, including:

  • Cardiologists
  • Dieticians
  • Genetic counselors
  • Geneticists
  • Neurologists
  • Nurse case managers
  • Nutritionists
  • Orthopedists
  • Physiatrists
  • Physical activity specialists
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Psychologists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Rehabilitation specialists
  • Respiratory specialists
  • Speech/language pathologists

Learn More About the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Clinic

The Spinal Muscular Atrophy Clinic is available by physician referral. If you would like your child to be referred to Arkansas Children's, please have your doctor call 501-364-4000. If your child does not have a primary care physician, please call 501-364-4000 and we will be happy to recommend one in your area.