What is the role of functional testing in the management of muscular dystrophy?

Updated: Aug 17, 2020
  • Author: Twee T Do, MD; Chief Editor: Jeffrey D Thomson, MD  more...
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Functional testing, as its name implies, refers to frequent evaluation of the involved muscle's range of motion and strength. This modality provides therapists with goals for patients' individualized therapy programs. Regular therapy sessions are necessary because the therapist also works with patients for gait training and transfer techniques. The use of all adaptive equipment is considered necessary by the orthopedist to maintain the patient's ambulatory status.

Drennan also recommends that a home program be taught to dystrophic patients, with stretching exercises for the lower extremities performed twice a day on a firm surface to minimize contractures. [58] Occasionally, serial casting may be necessary to manage significant flexion contractures at the knee or equinus contracture at the ankle.

The goal for patients with MD is continued mobility despite the use of a cast to prevent rapid loss of strength and bone mineral density. Even with initial loss of muscle strength for weightbearing, flexible soft-tissue and rigid ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) or ischial supportive knee-ankle-foot orthosis (KAFO) can help the patient maintain standing balance for additional months to years.

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