Best Muscular dystrophy treatment – A paediatric neurologist who specializes in the treatment of muscular dystrophy (MD) physically examines the child; evaluates the symptoms and make a note of child’s family and medical history, and then asks a few questions to the parents. The doctor orders a few tests to detect the type of muscular dystrophy and to rule out other conditions – which could be the cause behind such symptoms.

The Team

Once the diagnosis is made, a panel of specialist physicians will work collaboratively with the child and his family. The group of doctors who form the core team include a paediatric neurologist who specializes in the treatment of muscular dystrophy; a cardiologist, a pulmonologist, orthopaedic doctor, a physical and occupational therapist, a registered dietician and a nurse.

What Are the First Symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy in Children?

The first few years of life follows the normal developmental pattern for children with muscular dystrophy, but as years pass by – the signs and symptoms begin to manifest gradually – and the first among such symptoms include movement difficulties. A child who is a prospective candidate of muscular dystrophy finds it difficult to climb upstairs, stand up or sit down; run or jump. The child waddle, stumble, walk on toes with a waddling gait and frequently falls. The other noticeable symptoms include difficulties with shifting positions from standing to sitting and vice versa. The affected child may also find it difficult to push toys, tricycles and wagon. Some children also develop learning difficulties with late speech development.

The problem exacerbates with time as muscle tissue is destroyed and replaced by fat. Kids with muscular dystrophy suffer from enlarged calf muscles (calf pseudohypertrophy).

Progressive muscle damage hinders movement further by affecting walking making it worse. Movement lessens further with the progressive loss of tendons and muscles. The curved spine may result due to extreme muscles weakness and the inability of the muscles to support spinal structure. Breathing issues and heart issues creep in due to the loss of muscles strength and power. Swallowing difficulties may also develop due to weak muscles.

Treatment for Muscular Dystrophy

The aim of the treatment is to improve joint and muscle functions and to slow down muscle deterioration. Currently, there is no cure for muscular dystrophy.

Muscular dystrophy is a degenerative and progressively worsening disorder that can affect multiple organs and systems of the body. It cannot be reversed. Muscular dystrophy while progressing passes through different stages and therefore requires different types of treatments.

During the initial stages of the disorder, doctors recommend physical and occupational therapies, medications and joint bracing.

During the later stages, doctors may use assistive devices, such as:

•        Physical therapy and bracing to improve flexibility

•        Power wheelchairs and scooters to improve mobility

•        A ventilator to support breathing

•        Robotics to help with routine daily tasks

Physical Therapy and Bracing

Muscle toning and strengthening exercises form the core therapy – the purpose of which is to ensure proper muscle tone and reduction of joint contractures’ severity. Physical therapy helps in keeping the muscles strong and making the joints flexible.

Bracing: Stiffness in the joints makes it tougher to move – and thus joints lock in abnormal positions causing severe pain (joint contractures). This type of condition can be prevented by using bracing. A physical therapist uses braces diligently to help prevent joint contractures. Bracing provides additional support in apt places and thus improves the walking ability of the child.

Spinal Fusion

Scoliosis is the condition of the spine wherein the spine develops C-shaped or S-shaped curvature as the back muscles no longer keep or hold the spine upright due to progressively deterioration, loss of strength and weakness. This condition is seen in children with Becker and Duchenne types of muscular dystrophy.

In severe cases, some children may need to undergo spinal fusion surgery. The aim of the surgery is to relieve pain and straighten the spine and to reduce the curvature so that the child can comfortably sit upright in a chair. The surgery helps in lessening the effect of curvature on breathing.

Respiratory Care

Respiratory tract infections can troublesome children as their capacity to cough out phlegm decreases drastically. This may be due to weak respiratory and heart muscles. Sometimes respiratory tract infections can become very serious. Hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, good oral and general health care and regular vaccinations are very important for children with muscular dystrophy to prevent respiratory tract infections.

Assistive Devices

New supportive techniques and robust technology can provide promising outcomes for children with muscular dystrophy – as far as mobility and independence for kids are concerned.

Powered Wheelchair

In some cases, in the initial stages – especially those with Duchenne MD, manual wheelchair offers much-needed support when the child finds walking difficulty. However, as muscles deteriorate progressively and reach advanced levels of deterioration, motorized wheelchair well-equipped in dealing with the day-to-day requirements of the child can provide good support.

Robotic Technology

Children with an advanced type of MD can improve their movements of arms and legs and involve in their day-to-day activities – thanks to the latest advancement in robotic technologies. Robotics is a boom for children with MD.