Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of diseases that cause progressive loss of muscle mass and weakness. It was first described by physicians as early as the 19th century.
There are more than 30 different kinds of MD. They include:
- myotonic muscular dystrophy – it is the most common type in adults;
- Becker muscular dystrophy;
- oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy;
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy – it is the most common type in children, accounting for approximately 50% of all cases;
- limb-girdle muscular dystrophy;
- facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy – it doesn’t cause learning disabilities or other cognitive impairments;
- Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy.
All types of MD affect over 250,000 Americans. The age of onset is typically between 3 and 5 years old.
Symptoms commonly appear in early childhood and may include:
- learning disabilities;
- frequent falls;
- muscle stiffness and pain;
- difficulty rising from a lying position;
- large calf muscles;
- a curved spine (scoliosis);
- walking on the toes;
- waddling gait;
- trouble jumping and running.
MD is caused by genetic mutations that interfere with the production of muscle proteins that are required to maintain and build healthy muscles. Depending on the specific type of muscular dystrophy, the condition can be a:
- sex-linked (X-linked) disorder;
- dominant inherited disorder;
- recessive inherited disorder.
Testing for MD may include:
- muscle biopsy;
- molecular genetic testing;
- blood tests;
- other lungs, heart, or muscle tests.
There is no cure for muscular dystrophy. A few types of therapies can improve the quality and length of life in patients who have MD, including:
- breathing assistance;
- range-of-motion and stretching exercises;
- mobility aids;
- corticosteroids (steroid medicines);
- a pacemaker, only if the heart is affected;
- exercise, like – walking and swimming.
Note – to correct a spinal curvature which could eventually make breathing more difficult, a medical surgery may be required.
Some people with muscular dystrophy have mild cases that worsen slowly. Other cases are severe and disabling. In some cases, legs, arms, or trunk muscles may weaken to the point where mobility is severely limited.
Here Are 10 Famous People With Muscular Dystrophy:
#1 Jillian Mercado
She is an American fashion model who is represented by an international model management firm, called – IMG Models. She is keen to fight the lack of representation of individuals with disabilities in the fashion industry since she is one of the few professional models who have a physical disability.
Jillian Mercado was diagnosed with spastic muscular dystrophy as a child.
#2 Nawaal Akram
She is a Qatari model, athlete, comedian, and disability rights campaigner. In 2017, Akram was named one of BBC’s 100 Women program in 2017. Also, she had founded Muscular Dystrophy Qatar to raise awareness of the condition.
At the age of six, Nawaal Akram was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. At the age of 10, Nawaal was forcefully removed from education against her wishes and became wheelchair-bound at the age of 12.
#3 David Anthony
He is a member of the Great Britain national wheelchair rugby team and British wheelchair rugby athlete. At the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, David represented Great Britain.
David Anthony has muscular dystrophy and has undergone 11 spinal operations.
#4 Bradley Walker
He is an American bluegrass and country music songwriter and singer. Walker was a student at East Limestone High School where he played percussion in the school band.
Bradley Walker was born with muscular dystrophy and has been in a wheelchair all his life. He is a native of Athens, Alabama.
#5 Nikki Fox
She is an English presenter, broadcaster, and documentary maker. Nikki Fox was born with muscular dystrophy. In addition, Fox is a Sony Award-winning journalist who presents for network radio and television.
Nikki began working at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on the Peterborough Breakfast Show. Furthermore, she has studied piano, opera, theory, composition, criticism, and analysis of 20th Century music and has a BA in music from Brunel University.
#6 Alfredo Ferrari (Dino)
He was an Italian automotive engineer and the son of Ferrari automobile’s Enzo Ferrari. Actually, he was the only legitimate son of Enzo.
Alfredo studied engineering in Switzerland. At the end of 1955, he presented his father with the development of a 1.5 L DOHC V6 engine for F2.
On January 19, 1932, Alfredo Ferrari fell victim to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. He died on June 30, 1956, at the age of only 24.
The death of Alfredo Ferrari took a toll on his parents’ marriage, as his mother never got over the loss of her only son. To honor his son, Enzo Ferrari named the V-6 engine series of road and racing cars after him.
#7 Trevor Bentham
He is an English former screenwriter and stage manager. Some of Trevor’s works include:
- The Clandestine Marriage (1998);
- A Month by the Lake (1995).
In 1997, Trevor Bentham was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.
#8 Quentin Crewe
He was an English author, journalist, adventurer, and restaurateur. Crewe wrote regularly for the Queen magazine, Evening Standard, Sunday Mirror, and the Daily Mail.
Quentin was also a co-proprietor of numerous restaurants, including the Brasserie St. Quentin in Knightsbridge, London. He traveled much of the world, writing 11 books on the subject of his biographies, journeys, and cuisine.
At age 6, Quentin Crewe was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and it was predicted he would be dead by 16 years old. Fortunately, he lived to 72.
#9 J. T. Whitney
He was an expert on British postmarks and wrote a popular catalog about the postal history of the Isle of Man. Additionally, Whitney was an expert on the philately of the French coastal islands.
J. T. Whitney had suffered from MD and was an active fundraiser for muscular dystrophy causes. On the day after his 45th birthday, Tim died in Southend-On-Sea, Essex.
#10 Bryson Foster
He is a teen activist who advocates for the development of treatments for MD. In addition, he has served as MDA Goodwill Ambassador for the Charlotte, North Carolina, area.
Bryson Foster was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at age 5.