Muscular dystrophy is a genetic condition that partially or totally affects the body muscles. In extreme cases, the dystrophy can reach a degree of maximum disability. There is no cure for this disease, but the sooner it is discovered, the better the quality of life of the child can be improved.
What is Muscular Dystrophy?
Muscular dystrophy is a neuromuscular disease, acquired through heredity. In cases of muscular dystrophy, the fibers of the muscles are damaged, and the muscular weakness is progressively installed, even to disability.
There are several types of muscular dystrophy, but the most known are:
Becker muscular dystrophy;
Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
What are the causes of muscular dystrophy?
Muscular dystrophy is a genetically inherited neuromuscular disease. It seems to be triggered by the lack of dystrophin, a protein that normally re-appears in the body.
What are the first symptoms in children?
Most children suffering from muscular dystrophy follow a normal pattern of development in the first years of life. As it grows, the symptoms begin to appear.
begins to stumble on the go;
it goes staggering;
presents difficulties in climbing the stairs alone;
it goes on peaks.
A child with muscular dystrophy hardly manages to sit on a chair and finds it difficult to push various things, such as a tricycle or stroller. Also, the sick children develop what is called pseudohypertrophy - the false increase in volume of a tissue or organ (it does not increase the muscles, but it is about the accumulation of fat). This occurs at the level of the calves.
How is the diagnosis made?
When a child presents with the symptoms of the disease, the doctor will conduct further investigations including:
a physical examination;
family medical history;
interrogation about other past problems in the muscles;
tests to determine the type of dystrophy;
DNA test for establishing abnormalities in the genes;
muscle biopsy (if needed).
How is muscular dystrophy treated in children?
Muscular dystrophy is a hereditary condition for which there is no treatment. All medical efforts for the recovery of sick children are aimed at improving the symptoms and improving the quality of their life.
Treatment may include:
physiotherapy (to keep joints flexible);
medication (to prevent spasms, weakness, stiffness or damage to body muscles);
surgery to release the muscle contracture (when the muscles become rigid);
Respiratory therapy (in advanced stages of the disease, when respiratory infections may occur).