Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an inherited condition causing muscle weakness. The muscle weakness is not usually noticeable at birth but symptoms may become noticeable between the ages of 2 and 4. As a child gets older the muscle weakness gets progressively worse, making it increasingly difficult for them to continue walking.
The genetic abnormality causes a shortage of Dystrophin (a chemical protein), which is needed for muscles to function. As the dystrophin reduces, the muscles gradually weaken. DMD usually affects boys, although girls can present with milder symptoms and may carry the Duchenne gene.
What are the early symptoms?
- Mild delay in reaching their gross motor milestones e.g. walking late
- Children may start walking on their toes and develop a slight waddle.
- You may notice your child’s calf muscles become bulky.
- Your child may find it difficult to stand up from the floor and use his hands on his legs to help him – this is called “Gower’s sign”.
- Difficulty going up and down stairs
- Difficulty in jumping and clearing both feet off the ground
- Some children will be delayed in their speech
How Can Physiotherapy Help?
Each child is treated according to their symptoms and disease progression but the priorities of treatment are the same:
Maintain Muscle Length and Joint Range of Movement.
A tailored stretching and strengthening programme will be designed that can be fitted into the child’s daily routine.
Maintaining Fitness Level
A gentle exercise plan including games and activities will be discussed with the child and their parents.
Prolongation of Walking.
This helps to maximise the physical potential of each child, promote functional independence and minimise the adverse effects of conditions e.g. scoliosis.
Ensuring good spinal alignment in standing, sitting and sleeping.
Continual reassessment of respiratory function and intervention when indicated.
Our paediatric physiotherapists will continually assess your child to ensure their treatment plan is appropriate and focused on achieving optimal quality of life by promoting function and participation. It is also important to ensure treatment is individual and age appropriate to help with compliance and enable integration into a daily routine.
Are you looking for a specialist physio to see your child? Contact us today on 0207 884 0374 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.