Newly Diagnosed: Treatment Strategies for FA
While FA has no cure or approved disease-modifying therapy as of yet, there are therapeutic approaches that can help to ease symptoms and improve quality of life. Several experimental treatments are also currently in clinical trials that could prove beneficial for FA patients. Check out the information below to explore more about therapeutic strategies your doctor may recommend and what therapies are in the pipeline for potential future use.
Physical therapy is important in managing the symptoms of FA and has been shown to have a positive effect on patients by improving overall fitness. Physical therapy is aimed at helping FA patients maintain the ability to walk and achieve a higher quality of life for as long as possible while minimizing pain, deformity, and disability.
Occupational therapy is intended to provide FA patients with strategies and aids that can assist them in their everyday life. This could include recommending mobility aids, teaching them techniques to better cope with symptoms such as fatigue, suggesting assistive technologies that can help with tasks like using a computer, or identifying ways to adapt the home or work environment to aid in overcoming some common challenges.
Several surgical procedures may help to correct some of the common conditions seen in FA patients. These could include surgeries to correct spine or foot deformities, including scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine) or club foot. For FA patients who have dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, a procedure called a gastrostomy can be done to insert a feeding tube that helps them get the nutrition they need. There are also several different surgical procedures FA patients may need to undergo to correct or manage heart problems.
Gene therapy is still an experimental approach for FA, with scientists exploring different ways to deliver genetic material to cells that can either correct the faulty FXN gene or fix damage caused by the disease. So far, gene therapy strategies have only been tested in animal models of FA, with the aim of one day getting them into clinical trials for FA patients.
There are several experimental treatments currently in clinical trials for the treatment of Friedreich’s ataxia. These range from investigational therapies aimed at controlling symptoms to those that target the underlying cause of the disease. To learn more about the specific therapies now being tested in each clinical trial phase, click the links below.