​Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of disorders that involve muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue.  Muscular dystrophy is an inherited condition which means it is passed down through families. MD may occur in childhood or adulthood. The muscle weakness that occurs with MD progresses over time.  The rate of this progression depends on the specific type of MD and on genetic and environmental factors. 

Some different types of Muscular Dystrophy include:

  • Duchenne
  • Congenital
  • Becker
  • Emery-Dreifuss
  • Facioscapulohumeral
  • Limb-Girdle
  • Mytonia Congenital


Symptoms vary depending on the type of MD.  Some symptoms are slight and hard to notice, while others are more obvious. The main symptom is progressive muscle weakness. The weakness may affect the whole body, or may be limited to certain muscles.  In children this weakness may cause a delay in the development of motor skills. Even after gaining certain skills, MD often makes it difficult to maintain these skills.  Symptoms can decrease temporarily but tend to increase with the progression of the disease process. 
Specific symptoms might be:
  • Weak muscles
  • Frequent falls
  • General fatigue
  • Difficulty with stairs
  • Difficulty getting up off the floor to a standing position
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty using hands and arms
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle and joint stiffness
  • Scoliosis
  • Abnormal heart rhythms


The occupational or physical therapist will talk with you about your child’s medical history and your current concerns. The therapist will evaluate your child’s development, functional mobility and strength. The therapist will watch your child’s ability to perform tasks.  After the evaluation the therapist will talk with you about the evaluation results and together you will come up with a plan for treatment. 

Rehab treatment interventions

There is currently no cure for Muscular Dystrophy, but there are many ways to reduce and delay symptoms and maximize function.  Physical and Occupational therapy may provide specific exercises, stretches or activities to help patients maintain muscle strength and function.  The therapist will educate you in helping your child conserve energy for their most important tasks or help you manage the level of activity needed to maintain function without overworking your child.
He may discuss the use of assistive equipment to help increase your child’s independence or prevent specific dysfunction.  Anticipating your child’s future needs is important when considering equipment such as a wheelchair. 
Your therapist can work together with other professionals, including your Primary Care Physician, Physiatrist or Orthopedic specialist to make sure that your child has access to the interventions and equipment that they need, when they need it.  The therapy plan will be centered on the goals that are important to you and your child. Your therapist will also teach you to assist your child through education and training so that you can care for your child after therapy has ended. 
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