Muscular dystrophy awareness

THE MUSCULAR Dystrophy Association (MDA) has enlisted the support of firefighters nationwide for the 57th annual Fill the Boot summer fundraising campaign. Watch for intersection collection activities in your community in June, July and August, culminating with the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon on Labor Day weekend. The money raised supports research, clinic services and summer camps for kids with muscular dystrophy.

Muscular dystrophy (MD), which affects about 1 million people in the U.S., refers to a group of more than 30 inherited diseases that cause muscle weakness and muscle loss.

Some forms of MD appear in infancy or childhood, while others may not appear until middle age or later. Some cases are mild and progress slowly, while others are disabling and severe. The different forms vary as to which symptoms and at what age the disease first appears, but all the forms worsen as muscles get weaker, often to the degree where the individual is not able to walk.

Symptoms include:

■ delayed development of muscle motor skills
■ difficulty using one or more muscle groups
■ drooling
■ eyelid drooping
■ frequent falls
■ loss of strength in a muscle or group of muscles
■ loss in muscle size
■ problems walking

There is no cure for MD. Research into gene therapy may eventually provide treatment to stop the progression of some types of the disease.

Current treatment is designed to help prevent or reduce deformities in the joints and the spine, and to allow people with MD to remain mobile as long as possible. Included are various types of physical therapy, medications, assistive devices and surgery.