Content » Vol 37, Issue 4

Physical complaints in ageing persons with spinal muscular atrophy

Imelda J. M. De Groot A1, A2 and Luc P. De Witte A1
A1 From the iRv, Institute for Rehabilitation Research, Hoensbroek
A2 Department of Rehabilitation, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

DOI: 10.1080/16501970510030156


Objective: While life expectancy is improving for persons with spinal muscular atrophy, new physical complaints may arise. To investigate this, we studied persons with a long duration and severe course (high functional limitations) of the disease. Design: Cross-sectional descriptive study. Subjects/Patients: Persons with spinal muscular atrophy. Methods: Questionnaires and structured interviews on prevalence of physical complaints and their duration. Of 190 questionnaires 99 were returned; of 23 persons (with the longest disease duration and high functional limitation level) selected for structured medical interviews 9 participated. Results: Patterns common within and different between the different types of spinal muscular atrophy were identified. Of the 10 most common complaints, types 1–2 had a significantly higher prevalence of kyphoscoliosis, difficulty in coughing, joint contractures and voice/speech problems, while type 3 had a significantly higher prevalence of fatigue. No statistically significant correlation was found between the appearance of physical complaints and disease duration. However, sleeping and swallowing problems were in the 5 most common complaints with the shortest mean time of appearance. The structured interview revealed hypermobility in the hand, suffusion of the eyes, and itching as new complaints with high prevalence. Conclusion: There are indications that the frequency of less well-known physical complaints increases with ageing.

Lay Abstract


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