Multiple System Atrophy

What is Multiple System Atrophy?

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by symptoms of autonomic nervous system failure such as fainting spells and bladder control problems, combined with motor control symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, and loss of muscle coordination. MSA affects both men and women primarily in their 50s.

Is there any treatment?

There is no cure for MSA. Currently, there are no treatments to delay the progress of neurodegeneration in the brain. But there are treatments available to help people cope with some of the more disabling symptoms of MSA.

What is the prognosis?

The disease tends to advance rapidly over the course of 9 to 10 years, with progressive loss of motor skills, eventual confinement to bed, and death. There is no remission from the disease. There is currently no cure.

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports research about MSA through grants to major medical institutions across the country. In 2007, the NINDS sponsored a consensus conference that brought together experts from around the world to review and update the diagnostic criteria for MSA. These new diagnostic guidelines are helping doctors make quicker and more accurate diagnoses of MSA. A great deal of research is ongoing to learn why synuclein buildup occurs in MSA and Parkinson’s disease, and how to prevent it.

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