How is Leukodystrophy Treated?
There is currently no cure, and treatment for most Leukodystrophies is supportive care aimed at managing symptoms and maximizing quality of life.
Supportive care may include physical therapy to help maintain flexibility, relieve spasms, and minimize the deterioration of muscle tone. Occupational therapy can assist in achieveing as much independence as possible by maintaining a patients current level of function. These therapies can also provide comfort through stretching and proper positioning. Speech therapy focuses on the ability to understand words and the use of them to express oneself. It can also focus on maintaining strength in the lips and tongue to assist with the suck and swallow function necessary to eat and clear saliva.
Medication is another aspect of supportive care that can be used to ease symptoms. This may include medication to control seizures, reduce muscle spasticity and spasms, and reduce reflux.
A range of medical equipment exists such as pediatric wheelchairs and standers that provide postural support that allows patients to achieve a sitting or standing position. Having the ability to bear ones own weight can aid in proper development of certain parts of the body.
Often times patients receive all or part of their nutritional needs through the use of a gastrostomy tube (g-tube) once they begin losing the ability to eat by mouth. It also aids in the facilitation of medication.
For some types of Leukodystrophy, bone marrow or stem cell transplants have proved effective when patients are treated prior to being symptomatic. Transplantation of healthy donor cells into patients with these disorders have been shown to halt progression of the disease. Early diagnosis through newborn screening is critical because there is currently no way to repair damage that has already been done.