Multiple System Atrophy

Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute

Appointment New Patient Appointment or 214-645-8300

UT Southwestern Medical Center offers personalized treatment of multiple system atrophy (MSA) to maximize mobility and independence. We offer access to the latest research and clinical trials, as well as support for patients and their families.

The UT Southwestern movement disorders team has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating neurodegenerative disorders such as MSA, making us a referral center for cases throughout the region.

Personalized Approach to Care

Multiple system atrophy (MSA), formerly known as Shy-Drager syndrome, is a rare, progressive neurodegenerative disorder that causes deterioration and shrinkage of the parts of the brain that regulate internal body functions, digestion, and motor control. There’s no known cause for these brain changes.

Signs of MSA usually begin appearing in a person’s 50s. The symptoms are similar to those of Parkinson’s disease, but they advance much more rapidly. MSA is often associated with orthostatic hypotension, a type of low blood pressure. Learn more about symptoms of MSA

UT Southwestern neurologists have specialized expertise in MSA and offer patients a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, including access to leading-edge therapies.

Our Services for Multiple System Atrophy

MSA is difficult to diagnose and manage, and it requires specialized, ongoing care. UT Southwestern specialists use a customized process to diagnosis and evaluate symptoms in people who might have MSA. Tests include studies of the body’s involuntary (autonomic) functions, such as a tilt table test, blood tests, a sweat test, and more. Learn more about our evaluations for MSA.

For people who are diagnosed with MSA, physicians tailor treatment plans to each patient’s specific symptoms. Treatment options include medications, physical therapy, speech therapy, and other approaches. Learn more about treatments for MSA. 

Support for Patients and Families

Neurodegenerative diseases such as MSA can be difficult, not just for patients but also for their families and caregivers. As MSA advances, patients require help with mobility, blood pressure management, and bowel and bladder function. This loss of independence affects quality of life for patients and their family members.

Our licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) provide emotional support for patients and family members, in partnership with psychologists and psychiatrists as needed. Our LCSW team organizes patient and caregiver meetings and conducts conference calls with patients, caregivers, and clinicians between clinic visits.

Research Advances

While there is no cure for MSA or specific treatments to slow its progression, research has brought us closer to identifying the cause of MSA, which is the first step toward finding a cure. Patients at UT Southwestern have the opportunity to participate in this research through clinical studies.

UT Southwestern is currently conducting a longitudinal study to track the effect of integrated treatment on the quality of life of MSA patients and their families. Researchers are also in the process of starting new trials that will contribute to a better understanding of and treatment for MSA over the next decade.