Many muscular dystrophy patients can benefit from physical therapy. As with other treatments, the exercises, frequency of therapy, and targeted muscles will vary depending on the progression of the disease. As the muscles become progressively weaker and more atrophied, the mobility of an individual's joints can be affected. Joints move because they are attached to tendons, muscles, and ligaments. The muscle weakness can make an affected individual too weak to move their joints. Some patients have limbs that become drawn inward and paralyzed.
One of the most common types of physical therapy is range-of-motion exercises, which help improve joint mobility and keep the joints flexible. Spending too long without moving a joint can increase its likelihood of paralysis. A physical therapist can also help with painful contractures that occur as a result of the disease. If the muscular dystrophy patient needs to use mobility aids, a physical therapist or occupational therapist will often be the one to teach them how to use them. Physical therapists will generally work alongside the patient's other healthcare providers to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding treatment.