5. Its symptoms come in stages
There are four stages of muscular dystrophy: early stage, transitional stage, loss of ambulation, and adult stage. Muscular dystrophy can show symptoms in a patient as early as 5 years of age. This is called the early stage wherein the patient appears clumsy and has difficulty running, jumping, and climbing. The patient also fatigues easily and has challenges with learning and overall cognitive development.
During the transitional stage, the body starts to compensate for lost muscle mass. The patient starts to walk on the balls of his feet or toes to keep balance and require ambulatory assistance as fatigue sets in quickly with minimal effort. Gower’s sign also manifests where a patient uses his hands and arms to stand up from a squatting position, indicating weakness in the hip and thigh muscles.
Complete loss of ambulation sets in at age 10 to 14. The patient may start developing scoliosis at this point and require mechanical assistance for activities that involve the appendages and the trunk. Fatigue in this stage is worse than ever. The adult stage is the disease’s deadliest stage in which the patient starts to experience cardiac and respiratory failure.