Center of Excellence for Rehabilitation Medicine, UMC Utrecht Brain Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, and De Hoogstraat Rehabilitation, Utrecht, The Netherlands; Department of Rehabilitation, Physical Therapy Science and Sports, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, Postbus 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address: [Email]
Proximal spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) causes severe physical limitations but also has a major impact on the lives of parents. The aim of this study was to investigate participation and mental well-being (burden, emotional distress and satisfaction with participation) of parents of home-living patients with SMA. Caregiver burden was assessed with the Caregiver Strain Index, emotional distress with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and satisfaction with participation with the Utrecht Scale for Evaluation of Rehabilitation-Participation. Because the majority of parents were mothers of home-living SMA patients (76%), further analyses were restricted to mothers. Seventy-seven percent of mothers of patients with SMA had paid work. A substantial proportion of mothers (76%) perceived high caregiver burden. Burden, emotional distress and satisfaction with participation were comparable between mothers of children and mothers of adults with SMA. Caregivers' participation in leisure activities was significantly related to their perceived level of caregiver burden, emotional distress and satisfaction with participation. Mothers engaging in more social and leisure activities reported lower emotional distress and caregiver burden. Considering the high level of burden attention should be paid to mental well-being of primary caregivers of patients with SMA. Caregivers should be motivated to keep participating in social/leisure activities.