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Distal Myopathies

Medical Management

Problems and solutions in distal muscular dystrophy (DD)

Forearm and hand weakness

Your MDA clinic can refer you to an occupational therapist who can help you get the most out of your hand and forearm muscles in performing day-to-day activities. Often, the therapist can recommend devices that may improve grip strength or help support your arms for using a keyboard or eating.

Lower leg and foot weakness

Weakness of the lower leg and foot muscles can make walking difficult. In some cases, an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO), a brace worn over the shoe and lower leg, can help.

AFOs are especially useful when muscles in the front of the lower leg aren’t strong enough to pick up the front of the foot during walking. In this condition, known as foot drop, an AFO can prevent the foot from flopping down and tripping the person.

Swallowing and heart problems

Some forms of distal muscular dystrophy affect the muscles used for swallowing, and precautions must be taken when eating or drinking so that food isn’t aspirated into the lungs.

Other forms of DD affect the heart, and special precautions must be taken to monitor heart function. Each disorder has its own special areas of concern.

To learn more, see AAN Releases Guideline for LGMD Diagnosis and Care (October 2014).

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