February 13-18 is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Week. Muscular dystrophy is a term given to a number of disorders that primarily affect muscles and movement. With Muscular Dystrophy, muscle proteins degenerate and wear down. This causes the muscles to weaken, leading to difficulties with mobility. In some cases, paralysis can result. In other cases, there can be a serious reduction in the individual’s ability to move about independently and lead a productive life.
There are several types of muscular dystrophy. One of the most common forms in children is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a condition that mostly affects male children. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disorder.
The most common type of muscular dystrophy affecting adults is myotonic muscular dystrophy. This condition typically appears after the age of 40, but symptoms can appear at any age. Symptoms include a weakening of the muscles in the face, and neck. The condition can also cause cataracts.
Some studies have also shown that muscular dystrophy can cause disturbances in brain functioning that can trigger sleep disturbances, resulting in excessive fatigue and sleepiness in the daytime. This can affect the individual’s ability to work at a regular job. Cognitive functioning may also be affected. The weakness in the throat muscles may cause difficulties in swallowing and choking. This can result in inadequate nutrition and weight loss, since the problems with swallowing impede the person’s ability to eat normally.
There are several ways to show your support for the DMD community.
- Learn more about DMD.
- Support research efforts by donating
- Ask questions and offer to join a family as they spread awareness.
- Advocate for someone with DMD or help them to be their own advocate.
- Join a fundraiser near you or start one that will help raise awareness each year.
- Attend an event where a DMD Ambassador is speaking to learn directly from someone with DMD.