Multiple system atrophy

HEALTH INFORMATION

Understanding why and how MSA occurs

WHAT WE KNOW

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a progressive degenerative neurological disorder that affects adult men and women, usually in their 50s or 60s. It is caused by degeneration or atrophy of nerve cells in specific areas of the brain. It is still unclear as to why cells become damaged in people with MSA and further research needs to be conducted into why and how this happens.

The shrinking of the cells can cause problems with movement, balance and autonomic functions of the body such as bladder and blood pressure control.

Symptoms may include fainting spells and problems with heart rate, erectile dysfunction, and bladder control. Motor impairments (ie, loss of or limited muscle control or movement, or limited mobility) may include tremor, rigidity, and/or loss of muscle coordination as well as difficulties with speech and gait (the way a person walks).

The clinical features of MSA overlap with those of Parkinson’s disease, and for this reason, early cases of MSA are often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease. We now know that the feature that definitively identifies MSA pathology is the buildup of a protein called alpha-synuclein in oligodendrocytes, the support cells of the brain.

These cells are responsible for producing myelin, which is the specialised membrane that encases the nerve fibres in the brain. The alpha-synuclein protein buildups in the brain of people with MSA mean that the oligodendrocytes cannot properly make myelin, and without myelin the neurons will degenerate and eventually die.

The cause of MSA is unknown, no specific risk factors have been identified, and there is no cure or effective treatment. Treatment for MSA includes medications and lifestyle changes to help manage symptoms. The condition progresses gradually and eventually leads to death.

What else is happening in Multiple system atrophy research at NeuRA?

FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

ReacStep – novel balance training programs to prevent falls in older adults

The ReacStep study is investigating the short-term effects of two balance training programs (i.e. reactive balance training and conventional balance training) on balance recovery from slips and trips in older adults. These programs are designed from evidence-based research and offer a challenging and unique experience to improving balance. The ReacStep team are calling on volunteers who: are aged 65 and over living independently in the Sydney metropolitan community can walk 500m comfortably with mobility aids or rest have not been advised by a medical practitioner not to exercise have no neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc.) have no history or lower limb, pelvic or vertebral fracture(s) and/or lower limb joint replacement(s) in the past 6 months have no other existing conditions that may prevent them from exercising (e.g. injury, pain, fatigue, etc.) Eligible volunteers will be subjected to a health and safety screening before they are enrolled and randomly allocated into one of the two groups. Both groups will undertake a 3-week training program with an exercise physiologist, at NeuRA (i.e. in Randwick) as well as a balance recovery assessment at the 4-week time point. Reactive balance training involves intentionally stepping on a sliding tile, stepping over obstacles, trigger-release recovery as well as strength training. Participants will be wearing a full-body safety harness to ensure safety. Conventional balance training involves keeping balance in varying foot positions (i.e. feet together, in tandem or on one leg) whilst performing secondary tasks such as throwing a ball, card sorting, solving a maze or playing computer games. For more detailed information, read the Participant Information Statement and watch the video below. To get involved or to register your interest, click HERE. For all other queries, please contact the ReacStep Team on 02 9399 1002 or reactstep-study@neura.edu.au. HC210350 https://youtu.be/55q5pK0kjqY
PROJECT