Muscular dystrophy is a group of genetic diseases characterized by progressive degeneration of muscle fibers and often other organ systems. The symptoms typically begin in childhood and mostly in boys while some other types of M.D. don’t occur until adulthood. There are many different types of M.D. a few of which are: Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Becker muscular dystrophy, and myotonia congenita just to name a few.
The symptoms may vary depending on which type of M.D. it is. Sometimes all the muscles are affected and other times only specific groups such as the pelvis, shoulder, or face. Some people may have trouble breathing or swallowing or develop limb contractures. Certain varieties of the disease can affect the heart and other organs as well. Some general symptoms include:
- Intellectual disability (only in some types)
- Progressive muscle weakness
- Delayed development of muscle motor skills
- Drooling, eyelid drooping
- Frequent falls
- Loss in muscle size
- Problems with gait (walking or running/jumping)
- Difficulty getting up from a lying or sitting position
The muscular weakness often begins in the legs making it harder for children to walk normally. Children may start to use his/her hands and arms to get up from the floor and stand up. Usually by age 12 a child is unable to walk and may need a wheelchair. Muscular dystrophy is genetic and occurs when one of the genes involved in making proteins that protect muscle fibers is defective. Many are inherited but some may occur spontaneously and genetic counseling is advised if there is a family history of M.D.
Currently there is no cure for muscular dystrophy, however physical therapy can help control symptoms and maintain muscle strength and function. Physical therapy will include range of motion exercises to maintain flexibility of joints and limbs, mobility aids such as braces, walkers or wheelchairs to keep mobility and independence, and breathing assistance like a sleep apnea device to help improve oxygen delivery. Research and awareness is ongoing and although these treatments are not a cure for M.D. it can help to prolong the lifespan of the individual as well as in some cases help maintain a normal lifespan.
We treat muscular dystrophy in the Clermont 34711 area!