The complete story of Multiple System Atrophy explained!
Most of your body’s function isn’t under your control, including your heart rate, blood pressure, bowel and bladder, organ’s function, etc. Multiple System Atrophy is a very rare degenerative neurological disorder, affecting your involuntary actions. It’s often confused with Parkinson’s disease, because it has some mimicking symptoms, including slow movement, impaired balance and increased muscle tone.
Its onset is rapid and mostly affects the adults. Lifestyle changes also play a key role in moving towards the improvements, but its progression is slow. The former name of Multiple Systems Atrophy MSA is Shy-Drager Syndrome.
What are the Types of AMS?
It is further categorized into MSA with prominent Parkinsonism features (MSA-P) and MSA with prominent Cerebellar Features (MSA-C). The difference between these is that MSA-P has the extrapyramidal features dominant wherea, the MSA-C will show the cerebellar ataxia. At the time of assessment, the prominent features that from will decide which type of MSA you are suffering from.
What are the causes?
The actual cause has not been found yet, but the researchers believed that the environmental toxins or possibly the inherited component are causing the MSA. Another theory suggested that the age related change in adulthood is increasing the chances of MSA. New studies revealed that the over-exposure of alpha-synuclein protein in the brain is damaging parts of the brain and causing MSA.
What are the symptoms?
The primary sign of MSA is orthostatic hypertension — a sudden drop in blood pressure while changing the position and the person will feel faint or lightheaded. Both of these types have the varying sets of symptoms. Many parts of your body can be affected at a time and it develops in late adulthood. If you’re suffering from Parkinsonism type, then you’ll have the following symptoms:
- • Problem in flexing the arms and legs
- • Rigid muscles
- • Bradykinesia
- • Postural tremors (rare in MSA)
- • Poor balance and coordination
People with cerebellar MSA will experience
- • Unsteady gait and impaired balance
- • Slurred or slow speech
- • Visual disturbances
- • Difficulty in swallowing
How to diagnose?
Right after assessment and medical history, your doctor will ask to get your MRI and CT scan done immediately. Unfortunately, this gets misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s disease due to its similar symptoms. The complete blood count, tilt table tests, sweat test, electrocardiogram, and blood pressure measurement, especially while getting up after lying down, are the investigative measures, helping in making the correct diagnoses.
What is the intervention?
Since the cure hasn’t been found, the symptom management can help in relieving the discomfort and other medical problems. Medications to raise the blood pressure and reduce the Parkinson-like symptoms are suggested. Pacemaker is transplanted when heart muscles are affected. Catheter is also inserted to improve the bladder care. Feeding or breathing tubes are surgically inserted in advance MSA as well.
Physical therapist will improve your motor control and prevent the risks of disability, while the speech language pathologist will maintain or even improve your speech.
How can stem cell therapy be effective?
In several recent studies, the effectiveness of treating MSA with stem cell therapy, has been reported. In 2012, the Journal of Annals of Neurology published a study confirming that Mesenchymal stem cells can improve the neurological deficits in patients with MSA-C. This is a safe and simple method with fewer complications.
What’s the prognosis?
The Multiple System Atrophy is a progressive disease, but it depends on how early you got the correct diagnoses and what treatment approach your physician has chosen. With the help of Mesenchymal Stem Cells transplantation, the recovery would be satisfactory.