Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a genetic condition that affects your ability to move and potentially eat or breathe. Those with SMA have trouble using their muscles because the nerves that originate from the spine and brain stem and connect to the muscles are impaired. SMA primarily affects children and is the leading genetic cause of death for infants. Further problems can be caused due to SMA such as abnormal spinal curves which can make eating and breathing even more challenging. At New York Orthopaedic Spinal Associates, the many experienced doctors are available to provide you with the best spine surgeon on Long Island to help correct any spinal curves as well as the care and information you need to help someone dealing with SMA.


  • Type 1 – This is the most severe type of SMA and is usually diagnosed within the first six months of being born. Since type 1 results in extremely limited motor functions and inability to swallow, breath, or sit, death usually occurs within two years of life. The baby’s body will be floppy, limp and motionless after birth and other deformities such as scoliosis will possibly also be present.
  • Type 2 – Also called intermediate SMA, type 2 is the most common type of SMA.  This type begins to appear around 6 to 18 months and will likely be identifiable by the child not being able to sit without support, motor delay, deformities, enlarged calf muscles or finger tremors present. The life span for those with type 2 SMA is most often in their 20’s or 30’s and most often death is as a result of respiratory infection. A child with type 2 SMA will never be able to walk but will likely result in only partial function in their arms.
  • Type 3 – Also known as mild SMA, type 3 is usually diagnosed after a child starts to walk and difficulties walking arise. Those with type 3 will likely just need assisting devices to help them with walking and other functions and see a doctor regularly to monitor their spinal curvature and respiratory system.
  • Type 4 – Type 4 is adult-onset SMA and is the most-mild. Symptoms are similar to those with type 3 and generally won’t appear until the person is in their 30’s.


SMA is not curable but treatment for SMA is focused on keeping the person comfortable, focusing on the quality of life, and encouraging independence. Medications, physical therapy, and utilizing assistive devices such as wheelchairs, feeding tubes, and breathing machines will likely be recommended. Surgery, with a spine surgeon on Long Island, may also be recommended to help correct and improve any spinal curvature or deformities.


If you or someone you know requires spinal surgery or guidance with SMA we recommend speaking with a doctor at New York Orthopaedic Spinal Associates and receiving help from a spine surgeon on Long Island. Our experienced and caring doctors can ensure that you get the best help and treatment for any illness affecting the spine. Contact us for any information or further questions.