Muscular dystrophy is a neuromuscular, genetic disorder which results in the progressive deterioration of muscle strength and function. The most common form in childhood is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which can see a young boy using a manual wheelchair by the age of 8, and being completely dependent on an electric one by his early teens. Life expectancy for this disorder is usually into mid twenties.
There are many other types of neuromuscular disorders, affecting people of all ages. While most forms of muscular dystrophy occur in babies or children, some others appear in late adolescence or adulthood. The incidence of persons with a neuromuscular disorder is estimated to be 100 per 100,000 head of population. It is estimated that there are more than 24,000 people in Australia who have some form of neuromuscular disease.
Researchers and doctors are learning more about the causes of muscular dystrophy and various treatments are being trialled to stop the progression of the disease. Nonetheless, through early diagnosis, proper therapy and support an increased quality of life is possible.