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Early Phase (diagnosis to age 7)

Duchenne is typically diagnosed between the ages of two and seven. Many times there will be delays in early developmental milestones such as sitting, walking, and/or talking. Speech delay and/or the inability to keep up with peers will often be the first signs of the disorder.

Physical symptoms

  • The boy will typically move slower or with more difficulty than other children his age.
  • He may appear clumsy and fall frequently, and have difficulty climbing, jumping, or running.
  • Because of his muscle weakness, he will become tired more easily, or will have low energy.
  • He may ask to be carried frequently, or need the use of a stroller for longer distances.
  • Some of his muscles (in particular his calves) may appear enlarged or overdeveloped. This happens because muscle cells are being replaced by scar tissue.
  • This process may also result in him being less flexible and having loss of elasticity in the joints (also known as contractures).

Because the onset of physical symptoms may be hard to recognize, it can be difficult for parents to accept or believe a diagnosis of Duchenne. At times a boy may appear to be improving, even as his muscles are actually deteriorating.

Visit our Care for Him section for information related to care and treatment, or view our page on Physical Therapy for in-depth information on how it relates to this stage of Duchenne.

Related Links

Transitional Phase
Loss of Ambulation
Adult Stage

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