Treat Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a general term that refers to any genetic disease that causes the skeletal muscles to gradually degenerate. There are more than 30 forms of muscular dystrophy, with three of the most common being Duchenne MD, Facioscapulohumeral MD and Myotonic MD.


1. Conduct aggressive supportive care to preserve muscle activity and prolong the patient’s life expectancy. This can include active exercise, physical therapy, such as passive stretching and water therapy, respiratory therapy and speech therapy. Some patients also may benefit from specific occupational therapy.

2. Correct skeletal deformities caused by muscular dystrophy. Orthopedic appliances such as bracing can help specific conditions such as scoliosis and patients with foot deformities may wear therapeutic shoes. More severe cases of scoliosis and contractures may require corrective orthopedic surgery.

3. Prescribe medication. Control seizures with anticonvulsants, reduce the rate at which the muscles degenerate with corticosteroids and delay muscle cell damage with immunosuppressants. Antibiotics also may help prevent respiratory infections.

4. Implement assisted ventilation such as noninvasive positive airway pressure or permanent ventilation via a tracheostomy for respiratory weakness. These therapies require early monitoring and intervention to effectively improve respiratory function and prolong life expectancy.

5. Address additional complications of muscular dystrophy. ACE inhibitors or beta-blockers may be necessary for cases of dilated cardiomyopathy and more severe cases may require a pacemaker. Other treatments include feedings by gastric tube and specialized ophthalmologic care. Profoundly retarded muscular dystrophy patients will have general medical concerns.

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