There are various types of muscular dystrophy, depending on the group of muscles affected, the mode of inheritance, and the progression of the disease. Additionally, each specific type of muscular dystrophy has its subtypes, and the disease can present differently in each individual case.
Physical therapy plays a significant role in the treatment of muscular dystrophy. A combination of exercises and physical therapy, along with modern therapeutic methods, can improve muscle flexibility and strength, slowing down the progression of the disease.
Muscular dystrophy treatments at the Fizionova Center
Each person with muscular dystrophy has unique needs depending on their age, the type of dystrophy, and the progression of the disease. Physical therapists at our centre work with the affected individuals and their caregivers to develop an individualized treatment plan, allowing those with the condition to maximize their full potential.
Physical therapy should begin as early as possible, immediately after the diagnosis is established to prevent joint and muscle tightening, preserving them for as long as possible, reducing deformities, and enabling maximum mobility in all stages of the disease. The focus is on a comprehensive approach, which involves continuous monitoring, therapy adjustment, and the use of cutting-edge devices for muscle stimulation and mobility preservation, such as the RSQ1 device.
The use of the RSQ1 device in the treatment of muscular dystrophy
We use the RSQ1 device as part of our protocol for various conditions that require improving physical mobility, including muscular dystrophy. RSQ1 comes from a company specializing in electrostimulation and operates using various types of currents that stimulate the nervous system. We are the only centre in the Balkans with this device.
With a high-frequency signal of over 10 kHz, RSQ1 offers numerous advantages compared to similar devices: it instantly accelerates circulation, induces hypertrophy, increases saturation, and creates a large number of motor units. Additionally, RSQ1 provides fast analgesic effects. Patients can immediately notice relief if treated in painful areas, and the effects are rapid and highly effective.
This device is used in combination with exercises supervised by therapists who ensure it is used correctly. Physiotherapists, as part of the therapy, work on preventing and reducing joint contractures, maintaining or improving cardiorespiratory and muscle strength, adapting treatment, and guiding those affected to engage in everyday activities as much as possible.
Muscular dystrophy can be inherited from the family, but a person can also be the first to develop the disease. What is common to all types of muscular dystrophy is that muscle fibres in affected individuals are highly susceptible to damage. Over time, the muscles become weaker, and since this is a progressive condition, most patients will eventually reach a point where they require a wheelchair and constant assistance in performing daily activities. Although complete recovery is not possible, there are ways to slow down the disease and preserve the patient's mobility for as long as possible.
Symptoms of muscular dystrophy
Muscular dystrophy most commonly manifests in early childhood, typically in children under the age of five, after which the disease progresses. Initially, the shoulder muscles, hips, thighs, and calves are affected. As the disease advances, dystrophy also affects other muscles, directly impacting the patient's mobility. In addition to movement difficulties, swallowing and breathing problems often occur, and in some cases, dystrophy affects the heart, lungs, and other organs. Individuals with muscular dystrophy have significantly shorter life spans, and the cause of death is complications arising from disease progression.
How is the disease diagnosed?
If there is suspicion of muscular dystrophy, a doctor may recommend the following tests:
- Blood analysis for enzymes and proteins to check for elevated levels of an enzyme called creatine kinase. A high level of this enzyme can indicate muscle damage caused by muscular dystrophy.
- Electromyography (EMG) to measure the electrical activity of muscles and nerves.
- Muscle biopsy to examine cell changes in muscle tissue.
- Genetic tests to identify gene mutations associated with muscular dystrophy.
Types of Muscular Dystrophy
Some types of muscular dystrophy are defined by specific characteristics or the location in the body where the disease initially manifests.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (Dystrophia musculorum progressiva) represents the most common form of muscular dystrophy. Although girls can be carriers of the disease, it is much more prevalent in boys.
Signs and symptoms, typically appearing in early childhood, may include:
- Frequent falls
- Difficulty in rising from a lying or sitting position
- Movement issues such as running and jumping
- Walking on tiptoes
- Enlarged muscles
- Stiffness and muscle pain
- Learning difficulties
- Slowed growth
Becker Muscular Dystrophy
This form of muscular dystrophy is closely related to Duchenne muscular dystrophy and may have a later onset. It progresses more slowly and affected individuals often maintain mobility for a more extended period.
Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy
Myotonic dystrophy is characterized by myotonia (prolonged muscle contraction) and muscle wasting. It affects facial and neck muscles, as well as other muscle groups.
Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy
Symptoms typically start with weakness and atrophy of the face and shoulder muscles. The disease may begin in the teenage years but can also develop later in life.
Congenital Muscular Dystrophy
This type affects both boys and girls and can become apparent at birth or during the second year of life. The progression of this form can vary from mild to severe.
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SCHEDULE A PHYSIATRIST'S EXAMINATION
Dr Jelena Kluz-Đurđević, a specialist in physical medicine
After a conversation with the patient, Dr. Jelena will conduct an examination to obtain a more comprehensive view of your health status, helping to determine whether it's an injury or a diagnosis.
The examination lasts for 30 minutes and includes: