Living With Muscular Dystrophy
Aids and Adaptations
MD progressively weakens muscles so that patients may require the help of assistive devices to maintain mobility and independence. These aids and assistive devices should be used only in consultation with a trained occupational therapist or physiotherapist. They can include mobility devices, assistive devices for daily tasks, or orthotic devices.
Anesthesia for patients with MD must be administered carefully, as most anesthetic agents act directly on muscles, which are weak and damaged in these patients. A need for special care, including alerting an anesthetist that the person has MD, is essential, no matter if the anesthetic is local or general.
Diet and Nutrition
Getting sufficient nutrition can be a challenge for people with MD. Many have difficulty chewing and swallowing, or feel fatigue at levels that reduce appetite and make eating a chore. Limited caloric intake can break down muscles faster, possibly speeding disease progression. A registered dietitian should be part of a patient’s care team.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Reduced muscle strength in women with MD can cause complications during pregnancy and childbirth. It is essential that women discuss the potential complications of pregnancy with their medical team (primary care doctor, neurologist, cardiologist, pulmonologist, obstetrician, anesthesiologist, pediatrician, etc.) to prepare for such eventualities.
The symptoms of MD often start appearing in early childhood, so there is a need for schools and educators to be aware of the special needs of children with the condition. Parents and educators should work together to craft an educational plan for these children. It is important to take into consideration the tasks generally performed at school, including studying, attending classes, and playing.
Mobility problems due to muscle weakness and the lack of knowledge about sexual health can affect the sexual functioning of patients with MD. Muscle weakness due to the disorder can lead a patient to experience chronic pain, fatigue, and diminished strength and energy, which can interfere with sexual activity.
Traveling might be a strenuous task for MD patients, depending on the severity of symptoms and the nature of travel itself. It is therefore important that patients and their caregivers are aware of what needs to be done before and during travel to minimize discomfort and enhance safety.