Collaborating with Ohio State’s neuromuscular neurologists is a team of professionals dedicated to diagnosing and managing muscular dystrophies.

Muscular dystrophies are a group of more than 30 inherited diseases. They all cause muscle weakness and muscle loss. Some forms of muscular dystrophy appear in infancy or childhood. Others may not appear until middle age or later. The different types can vary by symptoms, by who is affected and by which muscles are affected. All forms of muscular dystrophy grow worse as the person's muscles get weaker. Some people with muscular dystrophy eventually lose the ability to walk.

There is no cure for muscular dystrophy. Treatments can help with symptoms and prevent complications. They include physical and speech therapy, orthopedic devices, surgery and medications. Some people with muscular dystrophy have mild cases that worsen slowly. Other cases are disabling and severe.

Source: NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Why choose Ohio State for treatment of muscular dystrophy?

Diagnostic Expertise: At The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Muscular Dystrophy Clinic, we have nine neurologists board-certified and fellowship-trained in neuromuscular diseases, including muscular dystrophies.

As one of the largest neuromuscular centers in the country, we see all major categories of neuromuscular disease. Our broad range of experience helps ensure that if you have an uncommon or complicated condition, we can provide the answers and the care you need.

Team Approach to Care: Collaborating with our neuromuscular neurologists is a team of professionals dedicated to diagnosing and managing muscular dystrophies. We create a personalized care plan for you, and provide diagnostic tests and treatments within our clinic. Our medical team includes:

  • Neurosurgeons
  • Orthopedic surgeons
  • Pain management specialists
  • Physical therapists
  • Podiatrists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Speech therapists
  • Social workers

Access to National Expertise: Because we collaborate closely with muscular dystrophy experts throughout the world, when you come to Ohio State, you have the collective knowledge of a whole network of medical centers supporting you. Our patients benefit from this knowledge of the latest findings in the diagnosis and treatment of muscular dystrophies and our access to the most current and relevant clinical trials.

Research: Ohio State’s commitment to basic science and clinical research backs up our clinical treatments with ever-increasing knowledge of muscular dystrophies. Work in the laboratory translates into more clinical trials for our patients.



Diagnosis

Diagnosing Muscular Dystrophy

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center provides a full range of diagnostic testing for muscular dystrophy, much of which is not available at other facilities. Many individuals come to Ohio State for our state-of-the-art, specialized testing, such as genetic testing, muscle biopsy, electromyography, electrodiagnostic testing and neuromuscular ultrasound.

Genetic Counseling: Our genetic counselors work with you and your family to find a genetic testing option that allows us to make the most accurate diagnosis. Our counselors then help you understand your form of muscular dystrophy. Many forms of muscular dystrophy have a genetic basis, such as:

  • Duchenne/Becker muscular dystrophy
  • Facioscapulohumeral (FSH) muscular dystrophy
  • Myotonic dystrophy
  • Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy

For individuals with very rare muscular dystrophies, Ohio State offers the option of exome sequencing. This new technology tests thousands of genes at once to unmask difficult-to-diagnose conditions.

Management

Managing Muscular Dystrophies

Treatment of muscular dystrophy focuses on supportive care - managing symptoms and preventing complications. One of our strengths is our range of therapies provided by experts who work exclusively with neuromuscular diseases. 

Therapists coordinate your care through our Muscular Dystrophy Clinic:

Physical Therapy

Following a thorough assessment, our physical therapist customizes a plan that addresses:

  • Maintenance or improvement of muscle strength and joint flexibility
  • Energy conservation and fatigue reduction
  • Equipment or adaptations in the home
  • Minimizing pain due to muscle cramping or spasticity, overstretched or contracted muscles and body positioning or pressure
  • Home exercises
  • Safe and efficient transfer techniques as you are moved from one place to another
  • Prevention of complications, such as shoulder and neck problems and falls

Respiratory Therapy

Respiratory therapy is overseen by central Ohio’s only respiratory therapist dedicated solely to neurological diseases. If you have difficulty with breathing, therapists monitor breathing capacity and oxygen intake. Our therapists can provide you with exercise and other tools for better breathing.

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy matches you one-on-one with a therapist who evaluates and treats speech, language, cognition and swallowing disorders associated with muscular dystrophy.

Other treatments include:

  • Orthopedic devices to support walking and movement
  • Medication for symptom management
  • Pain management
  • Spinal surgery for scoliosis or orthopedic surgery for joint contractures

We also offer new treatments through clinical trials. Ask your Ohio State physician if there is a trial that might benefit you.

Research

Research

Ohio State initiates clinical trials, participates in trials collaboratively with other institutions (including Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus on genetics clinical trials) and networks with other centers around the world to offer you the most effective treatment.

We are a member of the National Institutes of Health’s NeuroNEXT: Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials. This collaboration results in more promising treatments, more rapidly, providing patients like you more hope.


Enroll in a clinical trial


Clinical trials for muscular dystrophy treatments currently under way at Ohio State include:

Study of myotonic dystrophy

Study of myotonic dystrophy, the most common type of muscular dystrophy: Ohio State is investigating the biochemical and genetic changes caused by the disease, with the intent of starting gene-altering therapy in late 2014. We are striving to compensate for the genetic defect that underlies myotonic dystrophy to halt the progression of symptoms and possibly improve them.

Study of Facioscapulohumeral (FSH) muscular dystrophy

Study of Facioscapulohumeral (FSH) muscular dystrophy, the second most common type: As researchers nationwide are coming closer to viable treatments for FSH dystrophy, Ohio State is laying the groundwork for an evaluation system that accurately measures whether a new drug is working to improve muscle function, strength and overall quality of life.

Our Doctors

Additional Information

Please bring to your first appointment all records, written reports and lab results from neurologists or referring physicians, as well as a CD of MRI and other imaging results. Also prepare a written family history of neurological diseases for our discussion during your visit.

Preparing for your visit

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