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Transitional Phase (ages 6 to 9)
During this time, a boy with Duchenne will have more and more difficulty walking as his quadriceps (muscles in the front of the thighs) grow weaker. This causes him to be off-balance as he shifts his weight while walking. He may walk on the balls of his feet or toes to help him stay balanced.
In order to compensate for their weak trunks, a boy with Duchenne may stick out his belly and throw his shoulders back as he walks. When asked to stand up, he will put his bottom up in the air first and use his arms for support by “walking” his arms up his legs with his hands until he is standing (also known as the “Gower maneuver”).
Muscle Weakness & Medication
Although not apparent, he may begin to have heart problems requiring medication (after all, the heart is also a muscle). Most boys at this age have use of their hands and arms, but they may have difficulty carrying their books and other school materials (even when using a backpack).
In general, fatigue is common, and they may need the use of a stroller, lightweight wheelchair, or electric scooter for longer distances. Some children may use a walker to assist them in getting around the classroom.
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. Also, view our section on Educational Issues to find materials and information to help provide your child with a rewarding school life.
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