Muscular dystrophy (MD) is not a single disease, but a group of almost over 30 different genetically inherited diseases, that are commonly characterized by a progressive and degenerative weakness of the skeletal muscles- the muscles that are responsible for the movements in our body. It is broadly classified into nine major types. The types are based according to several factors like the age at the onset of disease, the extent of its impact and the type of inheritance. Muscular dystrophy is not curable or reversible.
However, with a timely diagnosis and treatment, the intensity of the symptoms and the progression of the disease can be reduced, increasing the lifespan of the affected individual.
Does Physical Therapy Help Muscular Dystrophy?
Physical therapy can be used as a supportive treatment along with other conventional methods of treatment in muscular dystrophy. Let us first see what physical therapists are and what are the roles they play in medical science.
Physical therapists are healthcare professionals that provide people with such services that help in developing, maintaining and restoring a person’s movement and functional ability to the maximum potential.
Physical therapists can be helpful to people of all ages, when the functional and movement abilities of a person are affected due to various reasons like ageing, disorders, diseases, injuries and sometimes environmental factors. They help people in maximizing their quality of life and they contribute significantly to the psychological, emotional and social well-being of a person along with the physical health. They perform services related to promotion, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation.
Physical therapists have different names in many different countries. In some they are called physiotherapists and in some others kinesiologist. Basically, they are all part of the same profession.
Looking at these factors, we can see how physical therapists are important healthcare providers in medical world. Their contribution in the treatment of muscular dystrophy cannot be overlooked. Let us now see how physical therapy can help muscular dystrophy-
- Physical therapists help the people with muscular dystrophy by managing the complications arising because of the disorder, like muscle weakness and contractures, and maintaining the body function
- Every person suffering from muscular dystrophy has special, unique needs that are based on the age of the person, type of the disease and the severity and progress rate of the symptoms.
- A physical therapist will evaluate the person with muscular dystrophy for these needs, and also evaluate age, medical history and any other factors to be considered
- The treatment also needs to be individually tailored, according to the needs of the affected person
- Physical therapists make an individual healthcare plan together with other specialists, that caters to the specialized needs of every individual
- Physical therapy should be started as soon after the diagnosis of muscular dystrophy as possible
- It is better to start physical therapy before the onset of joint or muscle stiffness
- Physical therapists are able to identify the weak muscles and can work on strengthening those muscles and making and keeping them as flexible as possible
- The therapy helps significantly in preventing contractures as well as deformities
- It also encourages mobility and movement at all the stages of life
- Physical therapy provides the affected person with the proper exercises as per the requirements of the affected muscles and helps them in obtaining an optimum functionality
- There might be a need for the use of assistive devices like wheelchairs and braces. Physical therapists can co-ordinate with the occupational therapists in order to accommodate these devices in their treatment plan and design the therapy plan according to these needs
- It helps in providing a better outlook and prognosis especially in diseases like muscular dystrophy
Muscular dystrophy is a group of over 30 genetically inherited diseases, which are commonly characterized by muscle weakness that is progressive as well as degenerative. It has no cure and cannot be reversed. Physical therapy can prove to be immensely beneficial in the treatment of muscular dystrophy.