The group of diseases that cause a gradual loss of muscle mass and weakness is known is Muscular Dystrophy (MD). It’s a progressive condition that eventually leads to disability. There are several types of MD and each one has its own symptoms ranging from mild to severe. As yet, there is no cure for MD, but therapies and assistive devices make living with MD easier.
Each type of MD affects different muscle groups and every person with MD experiences the disease differently. MD is usually inherited, but it can sometimes occur with no family history. The different types of MD include:
· Duchenne muscular dystrophy
· Myotonic dystrophy
· Becker’s muscular dystrophy
· Fascioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy
· The limb-girdle muscular dystrophies
· Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy
· Oculopharyngeal dystrophy
· Distal muscular dystrophy
· Mitochondrial myopathies
Typically, MD is caused by mutation or damage to the genes which control healthy muscle structure, protection, and function. The mutation and damage mean that the cells that normally protect and maintain muscles no longer do their job, which eventually leads to weakness and disability.
Depending on the type of MD, the symptoms and age of onset will vary. The most common symptom for MD is muscle weakness, but even this will vary greatly depending on the type of MD. A doctor can do tests and diagnose MD.
Living with Muscular Dystrophy
Only a doctor can diagnose muscular dystrophy. Blood tests, physical exams, evaluating family history, and a muscle biopsy may all be used to determine if you have MD and if so, which type. Although there is no cure for MD, therapies and medication help control symptoms. Physiotherapy helps keep joints and body moving while certain types of steroids can help strengthen weakening muscles. Exercise also helps maintain muscle mass and creatine has been found to improve strength with few or no side-effects. In severe situations, surgery may be indicated.
Living with MD can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Support from loved ones as well as medical device aids helps make living with MD less difficult.
MD can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life. With so many types and symptoms affecting people in different ways, it would be quite difficult to list every possible medical aid. Instead, we’ve highlighted the most common and encourage you to explore our site for additional resources.
Weak muscles and mobility issues can increase the chances of slipping or falling while in the shower or bath. Products like bath lifts, children’s bath lifts, and shower chairs increase safety in the shower and help retain independence.
Simple tasks such as buttoning a shirt or zipping pants can be quite difficult with MD. People with MD can preserve their independence and self-esteem through use of products like button holers, zipper pulls, self-binding shoe laces, and leg lifters.
Children with MD may feel limited in their activities and isolated from their peers. Play and development aids, including activity tables can help them interact and make friends.
The weakness and lack of balance that occur with MD can lead to immobility. To keep moving and retain independence, consider products such as crutches, rollators, support rails, and wheelchairs.