Living with a chronic condition is never easy, but when the chronic condition affects the individual’s mobility, it becomes all the more difficult to function. One such condition that affects the muscles throughout the body is spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). It especially affects the breathing muscles and renders the arms and legs frail. Since the muscles in the body become weak, it becomes difficult to stay active when one has SMA. But, failing to stay active can worsen the symptoms as lack of mobility can lead to problems like the inability to sit upright, muscle tightness and contractures, poor digestion, joint pain, and difficulty in breathing.
Due to the plethora of problems associated with a disease like SMA and how inactivity can worsen the condition, it is essential to find ways to remain active. Read on to learn more about how one can stay active despite suffering from the condition.
- Stick to a healthy diet: Maintaining a healthy weight is an integral part of staying active even if one has SMA. It is essential to consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains to keep the individual active for a longer period. It is important to consume a balanced diet as one needs nutrients like vitamins and minerals to stay as healthy as possible. Moreover, one needs to keep track of the calories consumed to maintain the ideal body weight.
- Continue occupational and physical therapy: It is essential to keep in touch with one’s SMA care team. The individual needs to continue getting therapy as it helps them perform a range of motion exercises. These exercises are instrumental in improving a person’s flexibility and function. When the joints cannot move through the full range of motion, the muscles become tight, and this is called contracture. To avoid contracture and the discomfort that accompanies it, it is advisable to continue occupational and physical therapy.
- Try aqua therapy: In diseases like SMA, aqua therapy is a great way to stay active. Water therapy is an excellent way of relieving pressure on the joints. It even provides for a greater range of motion in the arms and legs and in fact, blowing bubbles in the water can prove effective in strengthen respiratory muscles. One can even try floatation-resistance exercises and jumping activities which improves muscle strength.
- Take measures to prevent respiratory infections: People with a disease like SMA are susceptible to respiratory infections which need to be prevented for them to stay active. It is thus essential for one to work with a respiratory care specialist or pulmonologist.
How does technology help people with SMA in staying active?
The latest medical equipment and technology have made it possible for people with SMA and similar debilitating disease to perform physical activities on their own. Exoskeletons, wheelchairs, and braces help in improving mobility. Moreover, the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has a national equipment program that helps people with SMA who can’t afford supplies. The MDA lends gently-used wheelchairs and other medical equipment to people in need.