Muscular dystrophy is used to identify a group of hereditary medical disorders in which the muscles are gradually weakened & wasted especially among children.
What is Muscular Dystrophy?
Muscular Dystrophy consists of a number of medical conditions that are responsible for wasting muscles in a progressive manner. This is usually caused when mutation in genes affect the production of necessary protein required for normal muscle movement. Most types of muscular dystrophy affect children in the younger age while a few types may develop well into adulthood. Muscular dystrophy affects child’s ability to walk & will often lead to breathing & heart problems. More severe types of muscular dystrophy may lead to incapability in children to perform normal daily functioning.
Symptoms for Pediatric Muscular Dystrophy
Major symptom of pediatric muscular dystrophy is the loss & weakening of muscles. Other general symptoms vary according to the varying types of pediatric muscular dystrophy affecting patients.
Causes of Pediatric Muscular Dystrophy
There are certain genes that are responsible for the production of a protein which defends muscle fibers from damage. Muscular dystrophy affects this protein producing gene & makes muscle tissue vulnerable. Causes for all types of muscular dystrophy are invariably hereditary & type of muscular dystrophy developed depends on the gene that is affected.
Types of Muscular Dystrophy
Different types of muscular dystrophy –
- Myotonic – This is the most common type of muscular dystrophy. Although it is sometimes seen in newborns & infants, this type of muscular dystrophy also develops in older age among adults. It is characterized by prolonged spasms & tightening of the muscles after use. It causes muscle weakness & affects the central nervous system. This type of muscular dystrophy also affects the heart, eyes & various hormone producing glands.
- Duchenne – This is the most common form of muscular dystrophy found among children. Duchenne muscular dystrophy only affects the male child usually between 2 to 6 years of age. In this type of muscular dystrophy muscles may appear larger but they actually get weak over time. In most of these cases the use of legs, arms & spine gets affected due to muscle loss. Some extent of cognitive impairment is also seen. Duchenne muscular dystrophy causes severe heart & breathing problems in later stages.
- Becker – This type of muscular dystrophy is similar to Duchenne muscular dystrophy but the symptoms & affects are milder in nature. Progress of Becker muscular dystrophy is slower than other types of muscular dystrophy. In some cases it might also cause heart problems.
- Limb-Girdle – This type of muscular dystrophy affects hips in early stages thereby causing gradual weakening of hip muscles. As it develops it starts weakening the muscles in shoulders, arms & legs.
- Facioscapulohumeral – This is a more severe type of muscular dystrophy. It affects voluntary muscles that control movement of face, shoulder & upper arm. Further stages of Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy is marked by problems in speaking, chewing & mobility.
- Congenital – As the name suggests this type of muscular dystrophy is acquired by babies after birth. It causes gradual muscle weakness at the time of birth up to the first few months. This is accompanied by shrinking of muscles that give rise to joint problems. It also causes brain problems & seizures.
- Oculopharyngeal – This type of muscular dystrophy affects eyes & throat of the child. It slowly progresses to weaken the eye & facial muscles. It results in difficulty in swallowing. It also affects the pelvic & shoulder muscles in later stages.
- Distal – This is a rare form of muscular dystrophy. It affects muscles farthest from the central nervous system such as the lower legs & feet, forearms & hands.
- Emery-Dreifuss – This is another rare type of muscular dystrophy that affects in infancy. It causes muscles in the lower legs, upper arms & shoulders to weaken gradually. Muscle contraction is a prevalent symptom in Emery-Dreifuss type of muscular dystrophy. Weakening of chest & pelvic muscles also give rise to heart problems in some cases.
Pediatric Muscular Dystrophy Treatment
Medically there is no cure for muscular dystrophy as it is a genetic defect. However, there are treatments that help in reducing most of symptoms which allow children to live a more comfortable life.
Some treatments for muscular dystrophy are –
- Physical Therapy – Doctors use a series of physical exercises that maintain muscle flexibility & strength in this treatment procedure.
- Occupational Therapy – This type of therapy is effective in teaching the child to improve limited use of muscles & other aids to live a normal life.
- Speech Therapy – In cases where there is weakening of facial & throat muscles speech therapy is useful in developing communication ability.
- Respiratory Therapy – In case of breathing problems in children with muscular dystrophy, respiratory therapy helps in learning efficient ways to breathe, often with the help of breathing aids.
- Medication – Certain medicines can help subdue particular symptoms of muscular dystrophy such as anti-seizure drugs, blood pressure medicines, steroid & creatine can also help in improving muscle mass & muscular strength.
- Surgery – Surgical procedures are helpful in correcting problems associated with the heart & throat caused by muscular dystrophy.
Pediatric Muscular Dystrophy in India
Although, muscle dystrophy is a genetic disorder without cure there are a number of options for treatment of its symptoms. Pediatric muscular dystrophy needs to be corrected in the earliest stages so as to arrest its progress. India is the center for pediatric muscular dystrophy surgery & treatment due to its cost effectiveness. India has one of the largest networks of good hospitals & clinics which specialize in treatment & surgery for pediatric muscular dystrophy. All Indian metropolitan cities with numerous orthopedic hospitals are connected with international cities providing easy & convenient accessibility. They provide affordable treatments & surgical options alongside high standards of service which makes India an ideal destination to treat pediatric muscular dystrophy.