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Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy is a group of genetic muscle diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement. There are many diseases that fall in this category differing in rate of progression, age of onset, or extent of muscle weakness.
Students with muscular dystrophy have muscle fibers that are unusually susceptible to damage. Over time, muscles become weaker. Although voluntary muscles are usually most often involved, certain types of muscular dystrophy affect heart muscles or other involuntary muscles and organs. All muscles may be affected or only specific groups of muscles such as shoulder, pelvic, or facial muscles. MD can cause delays in muscle motor skills, drooling, frequent falls, loss of muscle strength, and problems walking.

Observing Muscular Dystrophy in the Classroom

Faculty might observe the following in students with muscular dystrophy:

  • Difficulty handling handouts or textbooks
  • Difficulty participating in laboratories
  • Inability to take notes
  • May be absent more often than other students
  • May use assistive technology to participate in class


Related Functional Characteristics

Climate Sensitivity : Cold temperatures may make it more difficult for students with muscular dystrophy to control their muscles.

Fatigue (Physical) : Students with muscular dystrophy experience physical fatigue as a result of muscle weakness.

Motor Skill (Fine) : Students with muscular dystrophy experience difficulties with fine motor control.

Motor Skill (Gross Lower) : Students with muscular dystrophy may have gross motor difficulties in their legs and lower bodies due to muscle weakness.

Motor Skill (Gross Upper) : Students with muscular dystrophy have difficulty using or coordinating their arms and upper bodies due to muscle weakness.

Personal Care/ Medical Equipment Needs : Students with muscular dystrophy may need a personal attendant or home health aide to assist them.

Reach Restriction : Students with muscular dystrophy may use a wheelchair which limits their ability to reach high and low.

Service Animal Needs : Students who have difficulty with grip strength or fine motor coordination may use a service animal to retrieve objects or open doors.

Susceptibility to Infection : Impaired respiratory systems are common in students with muscular dystrophy making them susceptible to lung infections.

The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.