Muscular Dystrophy

What is Muscular Dystrophy?

Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disorder that weakens the muscles that make the body move.  

What causes Muscular Dystrophy?

Muscular Dystrophy is caused by a genetic mutation in the gene that is responsible for healthy muscle structure and functions.

Symptoms/Behaviors of Muscular Dystrophy

There are many forms of Muscular Dystrophy and each have different symptoms.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a form that is common among children and mostly affects boys. By their teen years they are usually in a wheelchair. Its symptoms include: Trouble walking, Lost of reflexes, Difficulty standing up, Poor posture, bone thinning, Scoliosis, Mild mental impairment, Breathing difficulties, Swallowing problems and lung and heart weakness.

Becker Muscular Dystrophy is very similar to Duchenne only not as sever. It also mostly affects boys but symptoms do not show until between 11 and 25. Most people with this form don't usually need a wheelchair until about mid thirties and a small amount never need wheelchairs. Symptoms include:  Walking on toes, frequent falls, muscle cramps and trouble getting up from the floor.

Congenital Muscular Dystrophy is a form that starts from birth to about 2. This is when most parents start to notice that their baby's motor skills aren't developing like they should. The symptoms vary from mild to sever and most children with this form can not sit up without help. The lifespan also varies depending on the person. Symptoms include: Muscle weakness, poor motor control, inability to sit or stand without help, Scoliosis, foot deformities, trouble swallowing, respiratory problems, vision and speech problems, and intellectual impairment.

Mytonic Dystrophy or Steninert's Disease is causes the inability to relax muscles after they contract. It affect facial muscles as well as the central nervous system,  adrenal gland, heart, thyroid, eyes and gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms include: Drooping muscles of the face, weak neck muscles, difficulty swallowing, droopy lids, early baldness in front area of the scalp, poor vision (including cataracts), weight loss and increased sweating. It may also cause impotence and testicular atrophy in males and irregular periods and infertility in women.

Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD) or Landouzy-Dejerine disease is a disease that affects the muscles in the face, shoulders and upper arms. People with this form also have problems chewing and swallowing. A small number of them may also develop hearing and respiratory problems. Symptoms with this form usually appear during teenage years.

Oculopharyngeal (OPMD) causes weakness int he face, and shoulder muscles. Both men and women are usually diagnosed and/or show symptoms in the forties. Symptoms include: Drooping lids, trouble swallowing, voice changes, vision problems, heart problems and difficulty walking.

Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy is a form that affects more boys than girls. It usually begins in childhood and typically they die in mid- adulthood due to heart or lung failure. Symptoms include: Weakness in upper arm and lower leg muscles, breathing problems, heart problems and shorting of the muscles in the spine, neck, ankles, knees and elbows.

Treatments/Teaching strategies

With Muscular Dystrophy there is no cure but there are treatments to help manage the symptoms. Treatments include: Corticosteriods, Heart medications, therapy, and possibly surgery to help the curvature of the spine to help with breathing problems.

Here's a video showing somethings they may do in therapy sessions:

Help Resources

If you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from Muscular Dystropy, have any questions, or want to know more about this disease you can visit or contact the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) clinic or office at :

Clinic: Johns Hopkins University

Outpatient Center 601 North Caroline Street

Baltimore, MD 21287

(410) 955-6435

Office: 8501 LaSalle Road

#106 Towson, MD 21286



Wheelchair Use: In the four states, the percentage of males with DBMD 5 through 24 years of age using a wheelchair varied by age group as follows: 1

  • 29% of males 5 through 9 years of age
  • 82% of males 10 through 14 years of age
  • More than 90% of males 15 through 24 years of age   

Survival Rate:

Also in the four states, the percentage of males with DBMD 5 through 24 years of age who were living at the end of 2007 study year (December 31, 2007) varied by age group as follows: 1

  • 100% of males 5 through 9 years of age
  • 99% of males 10 through 14 years of age
  • 85% of males 15 through 19 years of age
  • 58% of males 20 through 24 years of age

Teaching Strategies

- Have meeting to talk about what their needs are.

- Check into IEP or other care plans.

- Work together with everyone involved with this person.

-Educate the other students about this disease.

-Schedule bathroom breaks or allow student to leave class a few minutes early.

- Encourage classroom participation.

- Encourage muscular movement when able to.

-Give extended time

- Make sure there is acceptable space for the student.

- Put student in cooperative learning groups that will embrace them.

Adaptive Technology



- For those who can't use there hand a pointer they can put on their heads to type.


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