Muscular Dystrophy:

What is muscular dystrohpy?
Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of more than 30 hereditary genetic disorders which weaken the muscles necessary for the body to move. All victims of muscular dystrophy are born with the disorder although some may not start developing symptoms until adulthood. This disorder worsens the condition of the locomotion related muscles overtime. Therefore, eventually, a victim may not be able to walk or even sit up.
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What causes muscular dystrophy?

The two causes of muscular dystrophy are a mutation in the dystrophin gene and the muscle tissue’s cytoskeletal inability to produce dystrophin. So what is dystrophin and why is it so important? Dystrophin is a rod-shaped protein found in the muscle fiber membrane and it acts like a spring and is also a shock-absorber, which prevents overstress. The two functions of dystrophin are the regulation of calcium levels and mechanical stabilization. Therefore, any genetic mutations which affect the dystrophin gene or the muscle tissue which produces dystrophin will cause muscular dystrophy because the victim’s mechanical stabilization will not be controlled.
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Muscular dystrophy is a horrible disorder which severely handicaps and limits the victim in almost all aspects of their life. There are essentially no advantages to having this disorder although there have been some positive advances in the struggle against muscular dystrophy. For example, doctors have been working with physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy in order to improve the lives of their patients suffering from muscular dystrophy. These activities have been generally successful in decreasing the limitations muscular dystrophy puts on a person’s life. Occupational therapy, for example, assists the person with daily activities which are more difficult for them such as self feeding, self-care and even leisure activities. This type of therapy focuses on helping the individual while allowing them to be as independent as possible. This has significant benefits for the victim’s mental health and confidence.
A second benefit is that a lot of research has been done on this disorder and experts have advised high intakes of certain foods and decreased intakes of other foods. Lean meat, milk, eggs, fiber and seafood are some of what is approved for muscular dystrophy patients. Butter, alcohol and carbohydrates are advised against. This nutritional guidance allows for someone suffering from muscular dystrophy to implement a diet into their lives in order to keep their condition from worsening unnecessarily.
Another aspect of muscular dystrophy which can be seen as a somewhat positive thing is the fact that is usually only affects males. Although females can inherit it, most of the types of muscular dystrophy mainly affect males. Although this in itself is not a good thing, it means the number of people who suffer from muscular dystrophy is much less than what it would be if both sexes were affected equally.
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Of course, the main limitation of muscular dystrophy is that the victim loses the ability to walk, run, jump and climb, sometimes as early as the age of 3. The condition also worsens overtime, often leaving the victim completely unable to move or even to transfer from lying down to a sitting position. Victims of muscular dystrophy often end up having to spend many years of their lives in wheelchairs. Another and very serious limitation of muscular dystrophy is that the life expectancy of someone diagnosed with muscular dystrophy is significantly shorter than the average life expectancy. The most common form of muscular dystrophy (Duchenne muscular dystrophy) gives its victims a life expectancy of about 20-25 years. The current world average life expectancy is 67.2 years of age. Another limitation for victims of muscular dystrophy is that there is no cure or treatment. There is also no way to prevent it seeing as it is hereditary and inherited from a carrier parent.

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Most genetic mutations probably result in some sort of negative impacts on the social life of the individual. Unfortunately, there is a lot of social discrimination against handicapped people or people with disorders. A lot of people cannot overlook someone’s disorder and get to know them as a person. This can greatly hinder the social life of someone with muscular dystrophy considering their disorder is very easy to see from the outside; the person cannot move easily or at all and may often be using a wheelchair, automatically setting them apart from the “normal” crowd of people. Apart from this, it would be extremely difficult or impossible for victims of muscular dystrophy to partake in a lot of social events including concerts, sports games, parties and much more. The friends and family of someone with muscular dystrophy would have to be very patient and accepting of their disorder, considering their social lives would have to differ greatly from the norm. However, types of therapy such as occupational therapy (mentioned above) which allow the victim to become as independent as possible, can have a positive effect on a victim’s social life in comparison to before the therapy.

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Having muscular dystrophy is a huge obstacle economically. Regular biopsies and medical examinations are necessary for people with muscular dystrophy and are also costly. On top of that, many victims will end up needing to rely on a wheelchair for transportation and wheelchairs are expensive. Another hindering negative economic effect is the fact that many jobs are not suitable for someone so limited in movement. The workplace of the individual would probably have to be wheelchair accessible and the daily tasks could not be very physically strenuous at all.
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  • Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. "Muscular Dystrophy Campaign." Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. Charity Times Awards, 2012. Web. 09 Mar. 2012. <>.