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What is Muscular Dystrophy? By Jenisis Wilson

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Muscular dystrophy also known as MD is grouped in over more than 30 inherited diseases, in which muscle fibers are damaged. Out of the many types of MD, there are nine distinct types of the disease. Symptoms of MD can develop as early as infancy, while others may not surface until adulthood. Myotonic MD is the most common form in adulthood, and duchenne amongst children. MD is diagnosed through a physical examine relating to family medical history. Several actions can be taken to diagnose the patient with the right type of MD. Muscular biopsy, genetic tests, blood enzyme testing, and electromyography are examines that are usually conducted on the patient.

MD causes an as person’s muscles to weaken, and sometimes lose their muscular ability. This is a disease that should be taken very serious due to the dramatic impact on an individual’s quality of life. Most individuals that are diagnosed with MD will eventually need a wheelchair due to a delay in walking. Boys with Duchenne MD are usually in a wheelchair by 12 and rarely live past 20.  While MD can cause an individual to be disabled, it can also be life threatening affecting the heart and other organs.

Most people with muscular dystrophy have problems breathing, swallowing, and can cause their limbs to remain in a fixed position. Depending on the form of the MD, an individual can live a normal life span with mild symptoms, while others may live a shorter life with very painful symptoms. Other symptoms of MD might include speech problems, intellectual ability, baldness in men and women, drooling, and so forth depending on the type of MD.

There is no cure for MD, because it is caused from genetics. However, medications and therapy can help slow down the progression of the disease. A genetic disease is typically more difficult to treat because it can be passed to children. Boys are more likely to develop the disease while girls are typically the carriers. Although there is no cure for MD, the goal of therapy is to control symptoms; physical therapy can help the patient maintain muscle strength. MD can be prevented if taking the right steps to get tested for the disease before planning on birth. Women may carry no symptoms but can still be a carrier of the disease.  Genetic counseling should be taken if a family has a medical history of MD.

MD affects more than a million Americans. A person with MD has to live a different form of life than anyone else due to the impact it has on an individual’s physical and sometimes mental ability. Symptoms vary depending of the form of MD. While, there is no specific treatment for MD, quality of life can be maintained through cognitive and physical treatment. The MDA, also known as the muscular dystrophy association, is a healthy agency that promotes voluntary assistance nationally to individuals diagnosed with MD. MDA is a nonprofit health organization that partakes in medical research seeking causes and treatment for MD.

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