Neuromuscular conditions in children

Campbell Clinic’s team of pediatric orthopedists treat a wide range of complex, childhood neuromuscular disorders. Our physicians are specially trained to manage the treatment process to ensure your child receives the most comprehensive care possible in Memphis and the Mid-South.

Some of the neuromuscular conditions we treat include:
*Muscular Dystrophy
*Cerebral Palsy
*Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) Disease
*Friedreich’s Ataxia
*Juvenile Dermatomyositis

Muscular Dystrophy
There are several types of Muscular Dystrophy we treat including Duchenne, Becker, Limb-Girdle, distal, congenital and myotonic dystrophy. These genetic diseases are incurable but treatable, and typically affect muscle mass and function.

These disorders may be characterized by muscle weakness or fatigue, developmental learning delays, difficulty swallowing, walking on the tip toe, and a general loss of muscle mass. Your physician will evaluate your child’s condition and recommend a treatment plan that may include medications, physical therapy or breathing treatments, surgery, or the use of assisting devices such as a splint or wheelchair.

Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder caused by anomalies that emerge during development of the brain. Most CP patients have the condition from birth and the illness is characterized by movement dysfunction and difficulty. The condition causes the degeneration of muscle function and control, including contractions. Patients may be affected in different parts of the body including the face, arms and legs. The impact of the disorder varies from patient to patient depending on which part of the brain was impacted. Vision and hearing impairment may also be common, as well as slow movement or favoring one side of the body over the other.

CP patients generally live well into adulthood and can lead highly functional lives. While cerebral palsy is incurable, the damage to the brain is not progressive, meaning that the condition will not worsen over time. Symptoms will be life-long and chronic, but can be managed through a comprehensive care plan. Physical therapy, surgery and medications may help alleviate some of the symptoms and restore function associated with the condition.

Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) DiseaseĀ 
CMT is a degenerative nerve disease that typically manifests during adolescence or early adulthood. The condition is a hereditary neuropathy that is inherited and may cause hammertoes, high arches in the feet, and numbness and pain in the hands, legs and feet.

The disease is characterized by weakness in the ankles and feet, difficulty in lifting the foot, difficulty in walking or running, and an abnormal gait. Muscle degeneration in the legs may also make movement difficult, and patients with this condition may complain of frequent trips or falls.

The genetic mutations that cause CMT may damage the nerve or the myelin sheath, the protective coating surrounding the nerve.

A physician may conduct a nerve study or EMG to diagnose the disease. While the disease is incurable, it typically has a slow progression and does not significantly impact life span. As with most other neuromuscular disorders, your physician may prescribe physical therapy and certain medications to alleviate symptoms and improve muscle function.

Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA)
An ataxia is the loss of coordination or control of bodily movements. Like Charcot Marie Tooth, Friedreich’s Ataxia is a hereditary condition that progressively affects functions of the nervous system. The disorder is caused by a degeneration of tissue in the spinal cord and is typically characterized by difficulties in walking. Other symptoms include hearing and vision impairment, muscle weakness or loss, and high arches in the feet.

The condition may also lead to more serious symptoms including diabetes and heart disorders.

If scoliosis accompanies your condition, your physician may recommend surgery to stop the progression of the spinal curvature. Physical and occupational therapy may help improve your gait pattern. Strengthening and stretching exercises may also help limit muscle weakness, and some medications may also improve your condition.

Juvenile Dermatomyositis
Dermatomyositis is characterized by muscle weakness and inflammation. A tell-tale skin rash may also be noticeable. This autoimmune disease may cause some cells to fight the body’s other healthy cells, resulting in an increased likelihood of other illnesses. Fever, fatigue, and weight loss are other symptoms.

Your physician will perform a physical examination and may order lab tests to determine the cause of the conditions. A medical consultation with the parent or guardian to determine when and how the conditions started may also help support the diagnosis.

A series of medications may be administered, and most children will go into remission during the course of their treatment. Some patients may even be able to discontinue their medication altogether within two years or less. Severity of symptoms and the response to medication varies from child to child.

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