What is muscular dystrophy? Put simply, it refers to a group of more than 30 muscular disorders that vary in age of onset, severity, and pattern of affected muscles. Some of them includes Duchenne, Becker, Limb-Girdle, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
The symptoms are unmistakable. Over time, muscle weakness decreases mobility, making everyday tasks difficult. There’s no denying that these are complicated conditions. However, most of us know very little about them, leading to various misconceptions about those living with muscular dystrophy.
To empower people with muscular dystrophy and their families, Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore) (MDAS) organises wonderful initiatives and community outreach programmes that also help to increase public awareness on this important topic.
As we gear up for MDAS Flag Day 2023, let’s bust open some of these myths and educate ourselves on muscular dystrophy. The more we know and learn, the better we’ll be able to support others with empathy.
Myth # 1. People with muscular dystrophy should not attempt to exercise
The truth is the complete opposite! In fact, exercising greatly benefits people with muscular dystrophy, as it improves mental health and energy levels, as well as reduces anxiety, depression and pain. Stretching exercises like yoga, pilates and tai chi are great for improving muscle tone and helping with joint stiffness.
Myth #2. Muscular dystrophy is not genetic
Wrong! This is an inherited disorder caused by mutations in the genes responsible for healthy muscle structure and function. It usually develops after inheriting a faulty gene from one or both parents.
Myth #3. Muscular dystrophy affects only males
Even though males are at an increased risk of inheriting this disease, it would be wrong to say females are not affected. Muscular dystrophy affects people of any sex, be it males or females, varying only in percentage. In some cases, it takes years before any subtle signs of it being present in the body even show up.
Myth #4. Physical disability often means intellectual disability
False! Just because an individual’s body doesn’t physically work as it should does not mean that their brain is affected in the same way. Making assumptions about intellect based on superficial appearance, can be both insensitive and uninformed. For someone with muscular dystrophy, it’s important to consult a neurologist to assess their cognitive abilities and challenges. By doing so, it becomes easier to find ways that enable them to be successful and live their best lives.
Myth #5. It is not effective to consume any medication.
While there is currently no cure for muscular dystrophy, treatments and therapies can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Muscular dystrophy requires proper medical guidance with a solid treatment plan, along with lots of support and care from loved ones and professional caregivers.
Despite the setbacks, life with muscular dystrophy isn’t devoid of joy. Affected individuals are still able to live lives to the fullest potential, with the right support, infrastructure and care. As a society, it is important to make the effort to learn about muscular dystrophy and contribute to the cause in whatever way we are able to, so that we can make the world a better, safer and more inclusive place for everyone.
Show you support and make a difference in the lives of those living with muscular dystrophy. Click here.