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Conditions We Treat: SMA

Spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, is a disease that affects nerves in the spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. The muscles of the body cannot respond to signals from the nerves, and begin to weaken and shrink (atrophy).

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What You Need to Know

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  • SMA affects approximately one in every 6,000 babies.

  • SMA can strike during infancy or childhood. The earlier the symptoms appear, the more serious the prognosis, so prompt diagnosis is essential.

  • Children with SMA have normal sensory nerve function, and most show normal to high intelligence.

Patient Resources

Why choose Johns Hopkins for treatment of SMA?

Dr. SumnerCharlotte Sumner, M.D., Co-Director of the SMA Center

Our Physicians

The decades of combined experience among our practitioners ensures more accurate diagnoses, especially in infants, and expertise in SMA from all points of view: clinical care, clinical trials and translational research. Our passion for advancing the understanding of SMA is reflected in our involvement with the scientific advisory boards and committees of organizations such as Cure SMA, the SMA Foundation and Fight SMA. Charlotte Sumner, M.D. and Thomas Crawford, M.D. have served as consultants to companies developing SMA treatment.


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Our Treatments

Our specialized multidisciplinary team approach helps your child through the insights of top specialists in orthopaedics, genetics, gastroenterology and pulmonary medicine. The Johns Hopkins SMA Center has access to the most advanced treatments and is the only center in the country that provides continuous care for patients from infancy through adulthood.

On Dec. 23, 2016, the FDA approved nusinersen to treat spinal muscular atrophy. Read more.

Sofia's Story

Dr. SumnerSofia with her parents

Sofia was born with SMA and treated with a revolutionary gene-targeting therapy. These therapies, while not a cure, have demonstrated new measurable motor milestones, such as head control, sitting, crawling and even standing. Read Sofia's story.

Our Research

The SMA Center is part of Johns Hopkins Neuromuscular Division, nationally known for its deep expertise in neuromuscular conditions. The center has established a unique biorepository of tissues collected from SMA patients and age-matched controls that facilitates research and therapeutic developments in SMA.

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Maryland Patients

Adult Neurology: 410-955-9441
Pediatric Neurology: 410-955-4259

Adult Neurosurgery: 410-955-6406
Pediatric Neurosurgery: 410-955-7337


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Whether you're crossing the country or the globe, we make it easy to access world-class care at Johns Hopkins.

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