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Muscular dystrophies are diseases of the muscle characterized by muscle fiber degeneration and associated progressive muscle weakness. Muscular dystrophies are an inherited group of disorders, and include Duchenne and Becker, Emery Driefuss, limb-girdle, myotonic, facioscapulohumeral, and distal types. Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies are inherited in an X-linked recessive pattern.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a progressive muscle disorder that causes loss of muscle function and independence. It is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed during early childhood, and can occur during any pregnancy, regardless of family history. Because the affected gene is found on the X-chromosome, Duchenne manifests primarily in boys. It is found in all races and cultures, and affects approximately one out of every 3,500 boys (and 20,000 babies) born each year worldwide.
Observation: Parents or teachers are often the first to notice the symptoms that indicate Duchenne, such as speech delay, enlarged calf muscles, and the inability to keep up with peers.
Tests/screens: Reliable tests help doctors officially diagnose a boy with Duchenne. These tests are typically used to confirm a preliminary diagnosis:
Visit ChildMuscleWeakness.org to learn about the early identification of muscle weakness, view a motor surveillance tool, and download a screening and referral algorithm.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention selected 84 clinicians to develop care recommendations using the RAND Corporation-University of California Los Angeles Appropriateness Method. The DMD Care Considerations Working Group evaluated assessments and interventions used in the management of diagnostics, gastroenterology and nutrition, rehabilitation, and neuromuscular, psychosocial, cardiovascular, respiratory, orthopaedic, and surgical aspects of Duchenne. These recommendations, presented in two parts, are intended for the wide range of practitioners who care for individuals with Ducehnne. They provide a framework for identifying and managing the symptoms of Duchenne and for providing coordinated multidisciplinary care. Right now there are not separate recommendations for Becker muscular dystrophy.
Encourage your patients with Duchenne or Becker muscular dystrophy to register in the DuchenneConnect registry.
Download the Care Guidelines for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy:
For Your Patients:
Imperatives for Duchenne Care:
Imperatives for Duchenne MD (PDF) is very focused and very brief, and includes a snapshot of the imperative components of comprehensive Duchenne care as described in the Care Considerations. This information is meant for health care providers, but can also be used by patients and parent advocating for comprehensive Duchenne care for themselves or their children.
Duchenne can cause symptoms throughout the body. Explore PPMD's Areas of Care pages for more information on the effects of Duchenne on different body systems. Each of these pages also contains additional resources specific to those areas of care.
Physical therapy (PT) can increase and prolong mobility in Duchenne, and plays an important role monitoring and maintaining overall physical health.
Visit our Physical Therapy page for a list of helpful resources and in-depth information on how physical therapy relates to different stages of Duchenne.