Wisdom of Life



The following is to help you understand some of the of words and references you may come across as probably used by a medical team when talking to you about MSA.

* Medication references – generics referred to first, brand name follows in brackets.

  • Alpha-synuclein –a protein found in glial inclusion bodies.
  • Ataxia – unsteadiness and clumsiness.
  • Autonomic – part of the nervous system that controls automatic body functions, the things we do without thinking eg heart rate, blood pressure, bladder and sexual responses.
  • Basal ganglia – the area of the brain that controls movement.
  • Brain stem – the area of the brain that controls automatic functions.
  • Cerebellum – the area of the brain that controls balance and co-ordination.
  • CISC – clean intermittent self catheterisation is a technique to help empty your bladder completely.
  • Continence advisor – someone, usually a nurse, who gives advice on managing bladder and bowel problems.
  • CPAP – a machine that provides Continuous Positive Airway Pressure to help breathing whilst asleep.
  • Degeneration – gradual damage and deterioration.
  • DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid is the basic structure of all living things.
  • Erectile dysfunction – inability to achieve or maintain an erection.
  • Glial inclusion bodies – cell structures found in the damaged areas of the brain.
  • Holistic care – comprehensive patient care that considers the physical, emotional, social, economic and spiritual needs of the person.
  • MRI scan – magnetic resonance imaging provides clear pictures of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Multidisciplinary – a team composed of professionals from many disciplines (eg doctors, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists).
  • Palliative care – holistic care aimed at alleviating symptoms and maintaining well-being when a cure is not possible.
  • Parkinsonism – used to describe the characteristic symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Postural hypotension – a fall in blood pressure on standing that can cause dizziness or fainting (also called orthostatic hypotension).
  • Respite – a period of organised care, usually residential in a hospital or hospice, that enables your carer to have a break.
  • Sleep apnoea – periods during sleep when breathing stops.
  • Sphincter EMG – a test of the nerves around the outlet of the bowel.