Power Wheelchairs for Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Spinal muscular atrophy is a genetic disorder that affects the control of muscle movement. The spinal cord and the part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord lose specialized nerve cells, called motor neurons. This results in muscle weakness and wasting. In severe cases of spinal muscular atrophy, the muscles used for breathing and swallowing are affected.

While there are many types, spinal muscular atrophy type 1 is a severe form of the disorder that is evident at birth or infant stage. Infants with spinal muscular atrophy type 1 are developmentally delayed and unable to support their head and may have breathing or swallowing problems. Spinal muscular atrophy type 2 typically develops in children between 6 to 12 months of age. Although they can sit without support, children with spinal muscular atrophy type 2 cannot stand or walk unaided.

Many individuals with spinal muscular atrophy experience the progressive loss of the ability to walk and position themselves, resulting in the need for a power wheelchair. A patient with spinal muscular atrophy should be fitted for a motorized wheelchair that is equipped with specialized seating, positioning and electronics components to help meet his or her needs, especially as the person’s condition progresses. The Edge 3 power wheelchair is adaptable, expandable and is available with iLevel® power adjustable seat height, allowing users to elevate up to 12 inches while driving at 4.5 mph. iLevel’s Extra Stability Technology® enhances safety for completing daily activities such as cooking, grooming, toileting and transferring. The Edge 3 motorized wheelchair also comes standard with LED front and rear fender lights, allowing users to see and be safely seen while crossing streets or parking lots.

Patients living with spinal muscular atrophy may benefit from expandable electronics. Q-Logic 3 Advanced Drive Controls enables a patient to drive the electric wheelchair with a joystick and is standard with Bluetooth®. Patients who have minimal hand strength, however, may benefit from optional specialty drive controls, such as a head array, chin control or Stealth® iDrive.

As symptoms progress, an individual with spinal muscular atrophy may need power positioning on his or her motorized wheelchair to assist with function, postural realignment and pressure relief. TRU-Balance® 3 Power Positioning Systems on electric wheelchairs are highly adjustable and offer an array of medical benefits, including pressure relief, increased sitting tolerance, independent repositioning and positioning for improved breathing and function. Available options on TRU-Balance® 3 include power tilt, power recline, iLevel, power articulating leg rests and power articulating foot platform.