Healthy Living

Model with Muscular Dystrophy Slays on the Runway

Model with Muscular Dystrophy Slays on the Runway

Photo: Model and Fashion Designer Jillian Mercado. Source: Youtube.

Hundreds of thousands of individuals in the United States, at any given time, are struggling with muscular dystrophy, a condition that often removes their ability to walk, stand, or fend for themselves. The same could be said for Jillian Mercado, an American fashion designer who, since being born, has been fighting against muscular dystrophy. Regardless, her disease was no more than a minor bump on the road as she still manages to carve her place as a respectable designer and model in an industry 

For individuals like Jillian, who are suffering from a rare variation of muscular dystrophy called congenital muscular dystrophy, life can be difficult to manage, especially for those who just received their diagnosis, where the symptoms are just developing and they're trying to adjust with their condition. Nevertheless, according to several patients, those who are suffering from congenital muscular dystrophy are arguably in a better condition to coexist with the disease as it progresses, as they have been doing so since birth.

As was mentioned above, congenital muscular dystrophy is a rare variation of muscular dystrophy, and is an autosomal muscle disease that is inherited recessively from carrier parents. The condition itself is characterized by a noticeable muscle weakness and a squalid appearance from a very early age. Those who are born with the disease go through a different muscle development process than healthy individuals. At first, the muscle biopsy of affected individuals could be considered as myopathic and can devolve into dystrophic, as the disease progresses through the child’s infancy.

Depending on the severity of the disease (no two are completely alike), children will show some muscle weakness early on, especially where movements are concerned. The symptoms may then progress as their muscles become further atrophied, giving the child an appearance of instability. From birth, a child affected with congenital muscular dystrophy may have trouble with early movements such as rolling, sitting up, or even walking; some of them might not even reach said milestones, at all.

The rarity of this disease comes from its autosomal recessive nature, which requires two carrier parents to pass it down to their offspring. Nevertheless, in the case where one of the progenitors is VI-deficient, only one copy of the malfunctioning gene is necessary to pass down muscular dystrophy, as the disease becomes autosomal dominant. Fortunately, despite these exceptions, congenital muscular dystrophy is still a rare disease, affecting only 3 to 5 individuals out of every 10,000 people.

When it comes to coexisting with congenital muscular dystrophy, the upkeep of the person’s muscular activity is paramount to ensure his or her quality of life. Despite their relative lack of muscular tone and difficulty to perform certain activities, keeping active is still important in order to reduce the progression of the disease.