Navigating Physical Education with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Adapting physical education class for Duchenne muscular dystrophy

According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, PE curriculums should be directed towards recreation rather than competition or improving physical strength. Under no circumstance should Duchenne patients be required to perform physically exhausting exercises such as pull-ups or weight-lifts. The goal is to have them experience the feeling of succeeding without going over the board.

Despite having limited physical exertion, experts all agree in the importance of stretching exercises for these patients. These may include stretching the knees, hips, foot and ankle. All these reduce the chance of weakening their muscles which can ultimately result in loss of mobility. PE classes should then include a set or stretching exercises, which they can work on throughout the school year.

It is also suggested that activities do not require students to use the stairs or anything that they have to climb. As an alternative, they may use the elevator if available or just conduct the activity on flat school grounds. Also, remember that these kids are slower than their classmates.  So, make them the leader in an activity where instead of playing, they give instructions or commands to their teammates. They should not just sit on the side and be excluded from any activity.

Moreover, exercises should not require them to get up and down on the floor. This is going to be very hard for them. Assign them seats and make other classmates responsible for anything that includes picking something up.