Oral and Swallowing Abilities Tool (OrSAT) for Type 1 SMA Patients: Development of a New Module

Valentina Giorgio, Marika Pane, Eugenio Maria Mercuri, Roberto De Sanctis, Roberta Onesimo, Giorgia Coratti, Simona Lucibello, Antonella Cerchiari, Richard Finkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We describe the development of a new tool specifically designed to record oral abilities, swallowing and, more generally, feeding in young type 1 SMA patients, to be used during the first 24 months of life. The tool is composed by a checklist and a separate section summarizing the functional abilities into levels of feeding/swallowing impairment. The checklist includes 12 questions assessing aspects thought to be clinically meaningful for a type 1 SMA population and developmentally appropriate for infants during the first months of life. Each item is graded with a score of 0 or 1, depending on the child's ability to perform the activity. As some items are age-dependent, the number of items to be used, and therefore the maximum score, changes with increasing age. The levels of feeding/swallowing impairment include four levels that can be identified using easily identifiable clinical criteria. In an attempt to validate the tool in an untreated population we applied it to 24 type 1 SMA patients (age range: 2.3-24.1 months, mean: 10.8) in whom the same information collected by the new tool had been previously recorded using a less-structured format. When patients were classified in three groups according to the Dubowitz decimal classification, there was a significant difference both at baseline and at follow-up (p<0.001). The items assessing fatigue during the nursing sessions were the most frequently impaired even in infants who did not have any other obvious clinical sign of swallowing difficulties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-601
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuromuscular Diseases
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • dysphagia
  • oral motor function
  • swallowing
  • type 1 SMA infants


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