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Muscular Dystrophy: Information and Therapy Options at NAPA

Sep 01st, 2023 | by Yvonne Lam

Yvonne Lam

September 01st, 2023

What is Muscular Dystrophy?

Muscular dystrophy is a group of inherited diseases that causes progressive loss of muscle and increasing weakness. Abnormal genes (mutations) interfere with the production of proteins needed to form healthy muscle. The most common form of muscular dystrophy is Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Becker muscular dystrophy is another form in which the symptoms are similar to Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but symptoms tend to be milder and progress more slowly. Other types of muscular dystrophy can be categorised by other specific features or where the symptoms begin in the body: facioscapulohumeral (FSHD), myotonic, congenital and limb-girdle.

What is the Cause of Muscular Dystrophy?

A mutation or change in genes that are responsible for making proteins that protect muscle fibers.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy?

As summarized by Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of muscular dystrophy may include:

  • Frequent falls
  • Difficulty rising from a lying or sitting position
  • Trouble running and jumping
  • Waddling gait
  • Walking on the toes
  • Large calf muscles
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Learning disabilities


What Are Some Treatment Options for Muscular Dystrophy?

There is currently no complete cure for muscular dystrophy. However, for some types of muscular dystrophy, medication can help manage the symptoms of the condition although medical opinion should be consulted due to possible side effects. Although there is no definite cure yet, early multidisciplinary treatment can help the child reach their full potential. Therapy for children with muscular dystrophy would be aimed at increasing participation with the environment and peers as well as increasing independence in functional activities.

  • Occupational therapy may focus on improving upper body function, fine motor skills, posture and coordination to learn new skills and participate in day-to-day activities.
  • Physiotherapy might focus on improving muscle tone, developing muscle strength and endurance and walking with adaptive gait trainers.
  • Speech and language pathology can address different ways of communicating and swallowing impairments.

About the Author

Yvonne grew up in Hong Kong and moved to Sydney to study physiotherapy, intrigued by the idea of using movement and therapy to help others get better. She’s always loved being around children and when she went on some paediatric placements during university, she realised that paediatrics was for her. She loves the complexity and the diversity of this field and enjoys working closely with families to help children reach their goals. Outside of work, Yvonne loves sketching and watercolour painting, meeting up with friends, playing badminton and discovering new sights to see while soaking up the sun.

About NAPA Centre 

NAPA Centre provides paediatric therapy services to children diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. Learn more about treatment options in this blog post.NAPA specialises in working with children with physical and neurological delays. In addition to working with children with more common diagnoses such as cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, NAPA has a special interest and expertise with children with rare, multiple and complex conditions. NAPA Centre’s Intensive Model of Therapy (IMOT) is world-renowned, and one of the leading clinics in Australia for paediatric therapy programs with a large multi-discliplinary team of Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Speech Therapists all working together. Families routinely travel from all parts of Sydney, the NSW region, from across Australia and even from the Australasian region to access NAPA’s unique and effective programs for their children.

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