From the Spring 2017 issue of AtlanticView Kids:
When a baby does not develop muscles strong enough to lift his head, or a child develops “foot drop,” parents start looking for answers. Sometimes the symptoms are so vague or a condition is so rare, finding them takes too much time.
“I’ve seen children who have spent 15 years going from one doctor to another, never finding a solution,” says Jahannaz Dastgir, DO, a physician at Goryeb Children’s Hospital with special training and expertise in child neurology and neuromuscular diseases. “The children have sometimes learned to live with cramping, pain or muscle weakness, or to use a traditional wheelchair full time. But by giving the child the right diagnosis, we can often help them live much fuller lives.”
Low muscle tone or muscle weakness can cause a variety of problems. It can make it hard for an infant or child to eat. It can delay or prevent crawling and walking. It can affect the digestive tract of toddlers and teens. Some children end up using a walker or wheelchair full time. And symptoms can start at any age, even in adulthood. Many health conditions could be at the root of these symptoms. But specialists at the Pediatric Neuromuscular Center at Goryeb Children’s Hospital have the expertise to parse out the cause and offer the latest treatments.
For example, toddlers might be able to get a power wheelchair, providing much-needed independence at a young age. For kids with weakened chest muscles, new devices can improve their lives and their health dramatically. Further, new gene therapy is now available for some types of muscular dystrophy. “These options for neuromuscular conditions have exploded in the past 10 years,” says Dr. Dastgir. “It’s a whole new world for our patients, and I’m excited that we’re a part of it.”
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