There’s currently no cure for spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, and no medications have been proven to slow or reverse disease progression. However, treatments exist to manage symptoms and reduce their severity.
It’s important to understand that SBMA is a progressive disease. That is, it will continue to worsen over time. Most people with SBMA will eventually need live-in caregivers.
Physical therapy and lifestyle adjustments
In many cases, certain adjustments in your daily life can make managing SBMA a little easier.
Because swallowing can become more difficult, cutting food into smaller pieces can help prevent choking. Consulting with a dysphagia specialist or speech-language pathologist (SLP) can help you practice safe and effective ways to swallow.
Swallowing problems are often factors in early mortality among people with SBMA, due to complications such as pneumonia or asphyxiation. If breathing becomes difficult, respiratory therapy may be helpful. In addition, ventilation aids, such as a bi-level positive air pressure device, can make breathing a little easier.
Because the leg muscles can become weak over time, a cane or walker may be necessary to walk safely and avoid fall-related injuries. Eventually a mobility aid (such as a scooter or wheelchair) may be essential. Physical therapy may help prolong the time before a person with SBMA is required to use a walker or wheelchair.