New Zealand Pamphlet on MSA

On the Shy-Drager online support group today, Vera posted a link to a pamphlet done by the Parkinsonism Society of New Zealand on multiple system atrophy (MSA).  The link is:

Editor’s Note: Link is no longer active

This short pamphlet would be something you could send to family members to provide a general introduction to MSA.  Or it could be given to new caregivers.

Copied below is most of the inside page of the 2-page New Zealand pamphlet that gives details on MSA.



What is MSA?
Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare
progressive neurological disorder presenting
with similar symptoms to Parkinson’s disease.
The condition is marked by a combination of
symptoms affecting movement, blood
pressure, and other body functions; hence the
label multiple system atrophy.

Various forms of MSA
Symptoms of MSA vary from person to
person. Because of this, three different
diseases were initially described to encompass
this range of symptoms: Shy-Drager
syndrome, striatonigral degeneration, and
olivopontocerebellar atrophy.

What causes MSA?
The cause of MSA is unknown.

Symptoms of MSA?
MSA can cause a wide range of symptoms,
.. orthostatic hypotension, or a significant fall
in blood pressure when standing, causing
dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, or
blurred vision
.. male impotence
.. loss of control of bowel or bladder
.. stiffness or rigidity
.. freezing or slowed movements
.. postural instability; loss of balance; lack of
.. speech and swallowing difficulties blurred
.. changes in facial expression.

Who gets MSA?
MSA usually starts between the ages of 50-60
years, although it can affect people younger and
older than this. Around 4 in 100,000 people
are affected by MSA in New Zealand. MSA
does not appear to be hereditary and is not
infectious or contagious. It is a sporadic
disorder that occurs at random.

How is MSA diagnosed?
Often symptoms are vague and diagnosis is
difficult. MSA is often mistaken for Parkinson’s,
especially in the early stages of the condition.
Diagnosis should be made by a specialist,
usually a neurologist.

What is the treatment?
Currently there is no specific treatment for
MSA. A variety of medications, including some
drugs used for Parkinson’s, and other forms of
therapy can help control the symptoms.
Treatment may focus on alleviating the
symptoms, so people with MSA could benefit
>from working with physiotherapists, speech
therapists, dieticians, continence nurses, and
occupational therapists.

What is the prognosis?
MSA is a progressive disorder, the rate of
progression differs in every person.

To the person with MSA and their
The diagnosis of MSA has significant impact
on those close to the patient. As the
condition progresses so does the need for
care. Carers/families may feel isolated,
frustrated and chronically tired. Infinite
patience is needed. Carers/families will
need support and should utilise support
services. Support services can be contacted
directly or referral can be made through
your doctor or health professional.