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Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a genetic disease affecting the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and voluntary muscle movement (skeletal muscle).

In the most common form of SMA (chromosome 5 SMA, or SMN-related SMA), there is wide variability in age of onset, symptoms, and rate of progression. In order to account for these differences, chromosome 5-related SMA, which often is autosomal recessive, is classified into types 1 through 4.

Keren Kinsley

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Most of the nerve cells that control muscles are located in the spinal cord, which accounts for the word spinal in the name of the disease. SMA is muscular because its primary effect is on muscles, which don’t receive signals from these nerve cells. Atrophy is the medical term for getting smaller, which is what generally happens to muscles when they’re not stimulated by nerve cells.

Other rare forms of SMA (non-chromosome 5) are caused by mutations in genes other than SMN1.3

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Open enrollment — the period each year when people are eligible to purchase new insurance or make changes to their existing insurance plans — is upon us. Buying health insurance can be confusing, but it’s critically important that everyone in the neuromuscular community have coverage. We are pleased to share some FAQs below to help . . .

What You Need to Know About Open Enrollment in 2020

Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. For most people who rely on non-employer coverage, this will be the only time to purchase insurance until the next open enrollment period in November 2021.