It’s Muscular Dystrophy (MD) Awareness month and we’re on a mission to help demystify muscular dystrophy and neuromuscular disorders.
MD is a group of diseases that causes progressive weakness & loss of muscle mass. There are many kinds, each affecting specific muscle groups and manifesting at different ages and severity. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), the most common, presents in boys around age 4 as weakness that progresses and affects the heart and respiratory muscles. Preschoolers may seem clumsy, fall often, have difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from the floor. By grade school, kids may walk on their toes or balls of their feet. Being unsteady they stick their belly out and shoulders back for balance. Between the ages of 7 & 12, many children lose their ability to walk. By their teenage years activities involving the arms, legs or trunk may require assistance or support to sit, stand or walk. Every child who has MD will have a different experience. No matter how much your child’s movement is limited, the disease doesn’t affect their intelligence in any way.
Orthotic Management for MD Symptoms
There is currently no cure for MD however, there are various treatment options available to help symptom management, prolong walking ability & encourage independence. Orthotic devices are braces that help support weakened muscles. They are worn to encourage proper alignment, positioning, enhance comfort and help slow the progression of contractures and deformities.
Contractures: As muscles deteriorate & shorten, kids with MD develop fixations of the joint. If not treated, contractures cause pain, discomfort, restrict mobility and independence. Range of motion exercises performed on a regular basis & wearing orthoses to stretch the tendons delays the development of contractures. There are various orthotic designs that are worn throughout the day or night that provide a stretch on the muscles.
Curved Spine (Scoliosis): As trunk muscles weaken the spine can be gradually pulled into a curved shape. The curved spine can cause respiratory complications and pain. Spine strengthening exercises & back bracing can slow the progression of the spinal deformity.
Joint Stability: Ankle foot orthoses & knee immobilizers may be prescribed for joint stability and support, stretching and positioning.
Standing Ability: Standing for a few hours/day with minimal weight bearing promotes better circulation, healthier bones & a straight spine. Standing frames & standing walkers assist children to stand &/or ambulate efficiently.
We are there to help you with your child’s needs. If you have any questions or concerns about orthotic treatment of neuromuscular diseases, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office.
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