Sunday, February 5, 2012

Muscular Dystrophy

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By Diane Forrest, RN

For as long as I can remember, the name Jerry Lewis and Muscular Dystrophy have been synonymous.  Every year during the Labor Day weekend I would sit in front of the television to see what famous guest would show up.  I can remember Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. stopping by, but in between the celebrities, they would show films of children who had been afflicted with Muscular Dystrophy.

Muscular dystrophy is a group of inherited disorders that involve muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue, which get worse over time.  There are several different types, but Duchene and Becker are the most common.  Muscular Dystrophy is inherited, and normally begins at birth; however some types occur during adulthood.  Symptoms include:
  • Mental retardation (only present in some types of the condition)
  • Muscle weakness that slowly gets worse
    • Delayed development of muscle motor skills
    • Difficulty using one or more muscle groups
    • Drooling
    • Eyelid drooping (ptosis)
    • Frequent falls
    • Loss of strength in a muscle or group of muscles as an adult
    • Loss in muscle size
    • Problems walking (delayed walking)

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There is really no treatment for Muscular Dystrophy, the most important thing is to remain active.  Bed rest or inactivity will cause the condition to become worse.  There is no way to prevent the disease either, however, genetic counseling should be considered if there is a history of the disease in the family.  Muscular Dystrophy can lead to other serious conditions such as:
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Decreased ability to care for self
  • Decreased mobility
  • Lung failure
  • Tightening of muscles around the joints (contractures)
  • Mental impairment (varies)
  • Scoliosis

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The millions of dollars being raised during the telethons are being used to research and find a cure for Muscular Dystrophy.  To see what you can do to help in this fight, visit:

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