Individuals with SMA often require a range of specialized medical equipment. This equipment is used to aid in breathing, coughing, and swallowing; to assist with activities of daily living; and to increase mobility.
We recognize that this need for equipment can put enormous financial pressure on families. Cure SMA makes sure parents understand all the options and resources available to them, and our equipment pool gives families access to specialized items like car beds, strollers, and bathing systems at no cost. Please visit our equipment pool page to find out which of these items may be available through the pool, and to find out how you can submit an equipment pool request.
The following is a list of equipment that has proven beneficial for many families affected by SMA . Please note that this is not a comprehensive list, and you or your child may not benefit from all of the items described here.
In addition, this list is not a substitute for professional, personalized advisement from a physician or other healthcare provider. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider—and, in many cases, your insurance company—before making any decisions on medical equipment.
Also called medical strollers, an adaptive stroller is built for a child with special needs. These strollers usually come with accessories, allowing the child to be supported and positioned comfortably. Some strollers also have trays to carry medical equipment.
Specialized bath chairs provide comfortable and secure bathing for children and small adults with special needs. Bath chairs are adjustable, with multiple seat and back angles.
The BiPAP machine (pronounced “bye-pap”) provides two levels of positive airway pressure delivered through a mask over the nose, or over the nose and mouth, or through a tube under the nose and into the nostrils.
The machine provides higher pressure and an increased volume of air when the individual inhales. When the individual exhales, the machine lowers its pressure automatically. A BiPAP machine can sense an individual’s normal breathing cycle and work with it.
The machine will also give breaths when the individual is in deep sleep and is not breathing adequately on his or her own. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a different type of setting that gives one continuous level of pressure. This may not provide adequate rest for breathing muscles, and is not recommended for individuals with SMA.
Three different types of braces are often used by individuals with SMA.
- Ankle-Foot Orthoses (AFOs). AFOs are externally applied and intended to control the position and motion of the ankle, compensate for weakness, or correct deformities. AFOs can be used to support weak limbs, or to position a limb with contracted muscles into a more normal position.
- Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthoses (KAFOs). KAFOs are designed to provide support and proper joint alignment to the knee, foot, and ankle. They assist or substitute for muscle weakness, and protect the foot and lower limb.
- Thoraco-Lumbo-Sacral Orthosis (TLSO). A TLSO is a back brace that wraps under the arms and around the rib cage, lower back, and hips in order to cast the spine into a straighter position.
A car bed is a car seat that lies flat, allowing the child to lie safely and comfortably in the prone position while traveling in the car. For babies with SMA type I, these car beds are vital as they may experience apnea and oxygen desaturation if they are placed in an infant car seat.
A cough machine forces air into the lungs at a preset pressure and then sucks the air out of the lungs at a preset pressure. This action can help produce a more effective cough, which maintains airway clearance.
E-Z-ON Modified Vests
An E-Z-ON modified vest is used for transporting children with SMA type I once they outgrow the car bed. This modified vest buckles into the back seat of a car and allows the child to lay flat across the back seat during transport .
These soft foam positioning seats are designed for all ages. They are simple to use and don’t require complicated adjustments. They are a great alternative to a child’s wheelchair or stander.
A pulse oximeter is used to check blood oxygen levels. Measurements of pulse oximetry (the amount of oxygen in the blood) can be performed with a simple, lightweight clamp or Band-Aid-like wrap on the finger or toe. The pulse oximeter alerts you to problems, or if the individual needs help with coughing. Children with SMA need extra breathing support when their oxygen saturation level drops too low.
Standers provide several therapeutic and physiological benefits for children with SMA. They help with digestion, circulation, and breathing. Standers also promote bone strength as users bear weight on their legs.
Powered or manual wheelchairs allow individuals with SMA to be mobile. Wheelchairs are usually customized to an individual based on their unique needs.
- Comprehensive Guide to Powered Mobility
- Links to Assistive Technology and Computing Sites
- Links to Equipment Funding Sources
- Links to Equipment Products for Sale
- Links to Transportation, Van Conversions, Ramps, and Car Seats
- Links to Wheelchair Related Sites
- My Way is the Highway Article
- National Rehab Network webpage
- Power Mobility and Power Wheelchairs for Children
- Stand up for your Stander Article