There are eight main types of muscular dystrophies that affect adults and children alike: Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy; Spinal muscular atrophy; Friedreich’s ataxia; spinal muscular atrophy; Marfan’s syndrome; Spinal muscular atrophy; Benningtons disease; and Spinal muscular atrophy.
Duchenne muscular dystrophies are a very serious and progressive form of muscular dysplasia. The symptoms include: muscular weakness, poor muscle tone, poor co-ordination and movement, and decreased muscular endurance.
Muscular dystrophy usually occurs from an inherited gene that causes a lack of a certain protein. This condition may be genetic, but it can also be due to an infection, trauma or an abnormality in the nervous system such as Parkinson’s disease. In a majority of cases, the condition occurs late in childhood and causes irreversible muscle weakness and stiffness.
Muscular dystrophy affects nearly two million people in the United States and Canada. Children are the most at risk, since they have the greatest amount of growth hormones being produced and the most rapid growth. The exact cause of muscular dystrophies in children is unknown.
Muscle weakness or limpness in children has a very negative effect on their quality of life. Children may be unable to play sports and exercise because of their limited physical ability. Physical therapists are often consulted by doctors to help children cope with their condition. It is important for parents to ensure that their children undergo regular physical activity as part of their treatment, since physical activity helps strengthen the muscles and maintain flexibility.
A person with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy may exhibit two or three children’s symptoms: muscular weakness, pain in the abdomen or lower back, decreased mobility, decreased coordination and movement, poor balance and co-ordination and muscle soreness. Children who have Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy may also have other, less obvious symptoms such as: trouble sleeping, problems concentrating and remembering, and problems with bladder control and bowel movements. Children with Duchennene’s muscular dystrophy often have poor posture, drooping eyes, and facial dimples.
Muscle wasting in children is common and occurs slowly over time.
The symptoms usually begin to develop during middle age, so early symptoms of muscular atrophy do not appear until after puberty. Symptoms of muscular wasting may last for years and even the condition may not be apparent to the patient until adulthood, particularly if muscle strength has decreased and the child stops moving around. Some of the most common signs of Duchennene’s muscular dystrophy are: difficulty sitting up straight, difficulty walking, shortness of breath, increased weight gain, poor posture, increased muscular weakness and muscle soreness, difficulty breathing, fatigue, skin tenderness, irritability, muscle weakness and loss of muscle tone.
Muscular dystrophy can result in irreversible deformities, but a child with the condition may still be able to enjoy many normal activities without the use of a wheelchair. While physical therapy is a common approach to treating children suffering from Duchennene’s muscular dystrophy, some patients need surgery to correct muscle imbalances. Most patients can resume activities like climbing stairs, swimming, jumping and bicycling later in life.
Muscle wasting in children is a progressive disease that requires ongoing medical care, including medications and physical therapy. The treatment options may vary depending on the level and severity of the disorder. Surgery, however, may be the only option for treating children with Duchennene’s muscular dysplasia, but there are effective non-surgical ways of managing this disorder that involves dietary modifications and nutritional supplements.
The treatment options for muscular dystrophy in children depend on how severe the symptoms of this disorder are. The earlier the disease is discovered and the earlier the child receives treatment, the better the chance that he or she will live a normal life and will not experience other complications later in life. Research has shown that children diagnosed with Duchennene’s muscular dystrophy before the age of 10 can experience disability later in life, especially in the areas of breathing, muscular coordination and balance, speech, cognitive functioning and muscle strength.
Muscle wastage in children is a very common disorder. If left untreated, many children may never live to their full potential and may even become disabled or have to use a wheelchair in their later years.
The best way to prevent muscular dystrophy in children is to make sure that parents are aware of the symptoms and signs of muscular dystrophy and to educate them on the needs and treatments for muscular dystrophy. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Duchennene’s muscular dystrophy, you should seek out medical care as soon as possible.