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For many, spinal muscular atrophy beings in early childhood or even at birth; however, there are forms of the disease that begin in early to middle adulthood. The age of onset can play an important role when it comes to the severity of the disease, but regardless of when an older adult first sees symptoms, added care will be necessary in his or her later years.
According to the National Institutes of Health Genetics Reference page, spinal muscular atrophy, also known as SMA or muscular dystrophy, is a genetic condition that affects the muscles and causes weakness and atrophy. This means that the size and mass of the patient’s muscles is reduced. This leads to loss of control over certain muscle groups which in turn leads to loss of control over walking, swallowing, breathing, and even neck control.