Promote the well-being and social inclusion of people with spinal muscular atrophy (Sma) through sport. This is the objective of ‘SMAnia di sport’, an initiative that kicked off on 26 May with a stop at Sermig in Turin. The meeting – organized by Biogen, in collaboration with the neuromuscular disease experts of the City of Health and Science of Turin, with the sponsorship of the Patient Associations, Asamsi, Famiglie Sma, Uildm, and the Department of Neurosciences of the University of Turin and the Piedmont and Val D’Aosta Neuromuscular Disease Consultation – addressed all people with Sma who are passionate about sports or interested in discovering new disciplines to practice and their families. Among the participants, some representatives of the Italian Paralympic Committee, who shared a testimony on the value of sport as a fundamental tool for social inclusion for people with all types of disabilities, starting from motor disabilities.
The basic idea that inspired Biogen, a leading company in the neurosciences – reads a note – to deal with the theme of sport in the field of neuromuscular diseases, stems from the fact that physical activity is much more than a simple practice for staying healthy but it is also an expression of individuality, a way of affirming and exploring one’s abilities and, consequently, an important tool for social inclusion.
“There are numerous studies that, in recent years, have analyzed the benefits of constant training and physical activity for the improvement or maintenance of motor skills in people with neuromuscular diseases such as Sma – says Tiziana Mongini, head of the Neuromuscular Disease Center Aou Città della Salute e della Scienza di Torino – In general, swimming or other water activities, low-resistance cycling training are always recommended, while it is advisable to avoid contact sports or sports that include the use of weights or machines for fitness. Instead, we recommend sports with assistive devices, such as hockey or wheelchair football or even e-sports, especially hybrid activities via virtual interfaces”.
As far as adults with Sma are concerned, “there is more and more evidence that supports the introduction of aerobic exercises and, on some occasions, high-intensity workouts, designed ‘tailor-made’ for each individual’s needs and to be practiced under supervision – underlines Giuseppe D’Antona, associate professor in Sport and physical activity science at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Pavia – These activities have been shown to bring benefits on a muscular and cardiovascular level but, above all, psychological and social, ensuring greater awareness and social inclusion for those who practice them. It is therefore very important to share this information with patients and healthcare professionals, because there are still many people with neuromuscular diseases confined in a vicious circle of physical inactivity”.
Sma is one of the “most frequent neuromuscular diseases in childhood – explains Federica Ricci, child neuropsychiatrist at the Aou Città della Salute e della Scienza – for those affected by this pathology it is essential to start practicing physical activity as soon as possible, in addition to neuromotor rehabilitation, as a moment of play and sociality. This practice will be able to create the right conditions to ensure that sporting activity becomes a good habit or, even better, a passion to be cultivated constantly even in adulthood”. The therapist “will have to take into account the specific phase of the disease, promoting safe walking and, when necessary, the introduction of motor aids that promote independence and at the same time ensure correct posture – remarked Enrica Rolle and Francesca Rossi, Neuro and psychomotor therapists of developmental age at the Aou Città della Salute e della Scienza in Turin – When it comes to children, then, it is very important to encourage them to participate in spontaneous motor game activities, both at school and in their free time, reassuring parents about the benefits that movement can bring also from a psychological and social point of view”.
“For the correct management of neurological pathologies – comments Giuseppe Banfi, CEO of Biogen Italia – a multidisciplinary approach is essential, which takes into consideration the impact that these diseases have on various aspects that influence the quality of life, such as sport and physical activity. Supporting those who live with neuromuscular pathologies such as Sma means listening to their needs and requirements, going beyond therapies, to give concrete answers: for this reason we have developed a project that gives the opportunity to explore and put into practice the opportunities that sporting practice offers both for individual well-being and for greater social inclusion”. The “SMAnia di sport” initiative is in continuity with “SMAnia di gusto on the road”, a real journey in stages organized by Biogen in various Italian cities to raise awareness among people with Sma and their families on the importance of finding the taste of sharing and conviviality at the table.