Multiple systems atrophy

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare degenerative neurological disorder with onset in adulthood with rapid progression. Early symptoms are very similar to those of Parkinson’s disease such as a lack of coordination, lightheadedness upon standing, tremor, speech impairment, and decline in bladder control.

Multiple system atrophy is divided into two types. When the primary symptoms are caused by the dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates circulation, digestion, and respiration, it is considered of the Parkinsonian type. When symptoms are characterized by a loss of motor coordination usually controlled by the brain, such as movement, posture, and balance, it is of the cerebellar type. Patients with MSA may become anxious and/or depressed.

Most cases appear randomly and the cause remains unknown, but it is believed to stem from a change in a protein in the brain responsible for aiding in communication between nerve cells. There is no cure for multiple system atrophy, but a combination of medication and physical, speech, and/or occupational therapy may provide symptomatic relief.

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