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What is Progressive Muscular Atrophy (PMA)?

Progressive muscular atrophy (PMA), also known as Duchenne-Aran muscular atrophy, is a rare subtype of motor neuron disease. Progressive muscular atrophy only affects the lower motor neurons. It is a sibling condition to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which affects both the upper and lower motor neurons. The distinction is important because PMA is associated with a better prognosis than classic ALS.

Since its initial discovery in 1850, there has been debate in the scientific literature over whether progressive muscular atrophy is a distinct disease with its own characteristics, or if it lies somewhere on a spectrum with ALS.

What are the Symptoms of Progressive Muscular Atrophy?

Symptoms of progressive muscular atrophy include:

  • Atrophy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Lack of reflexes
  • Lack of spasticity

Symptoms can be limited to the arms, legs, or both.

How is Progressive Muscular Atrophy Diagnosed?

Progressive muscular atrophy is diagnosed through the exclusion of other conditions. There is no specific test that can conclusively establish whether a patient has the condition. Instead, a number of other possibilities have to be ruled out, such as multifocal motor neuropathy or spinal muscular atrophy. Tests used in the diagnostic process include MRI, clinical examination, and EMG.

Prognosis for Progressive Muscular Atrophy

The prognosis for progressive muscular atrophy is better than with other similar conditions, such as ALS. Those with progressive muscular atrophy have a longer life expectancy than those with ALS. Furthermore, those with progressive muscular atrophy do not suffer from the cognitive change identified in similar conditions. It’s also important to note that an initial diagnosis of PMA could turn out to be slowly progressive ALS many years later, sometimes even decades after the initial diagnosis.

Mobility for Those with Progressive Muscular Atrophy

Many with progressive muscular atrophy experience the progressive loss of the ability to walk and position themselves, necessitating the use of a specialized power wheelchair. Quantum Rehab, the global leader in individualized power chairs, puts an emphasis on mobility technologies specific to the needs of those with progressive muscular atrophy.

Quantum Power Chairs incorporate power-adjustable seating for user repositioning and comfort; speciality drive controls, including those requiring minimal hand strength; and, a highly-adaptable design to meet an individual’s current and future needs.

Quantum Power Chairs feature the latest advanced technologies to increase the independence of those living with progressive muscular atrophy. iLevel seat elevation technology allows a user to operate the power chair at seated or standing height. Bluetooth is also integrated into Quantum’s Q-Logic 3 electronics, so those with progressive muscular atrophy can operate much of their environment with the power chair drive control, itself.

For those with progressive muscular atrophy, Quantum Power Chairs are designed to provide optimal medical comfort and maximum independence.


The Quantum Edge 3 with industry-first 4.5 mph at iLevel offers the most advanced power chair experience ever. Q6 Power Chair Series, which includes the Edge 3 and Q6 Edge 2.0 power chairs, provide highly adjustable mid-wheel drive power bases. The Q6 Edge 2.0 all accept our optional iLevel technology, which offers up to 12 inches of lift at 4.5 mph. The 4Front is a quiet, more responsive front-wheel drive power chair that features automotive-grade suspension with unprecedented comfort and ride quality.