Muscular dystrophy awareness raised in Lashburn

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August 18, 2015 8:15 AM

The Town of Lashburn's proclamation of September as Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Month will help spread awareness of the group of genetic diseases that affects 50,000 Canadians and for which there is no cure. - Supplied Photo.

The Town of Lashburn has made a historic announcement with the proclamation of September as Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Month.

“Lashburn agreeing to do the proclamation for muscular dystrophy for the month of September helps us spread awareness,” said Geri Coolidge, Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s fundraising and community development co-ordinator for Saskatchewan. “I think people are unaware of the disease and unaware of the number of diseases under that.”

Muscular dystrophy refers to a group of rare genetic conditions that weaken the human body’s muscles.

There are over 150 types of muscular dystrophy, the most common one being Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which affects one out of every 3,500 boys. Depending on the type and the severity of it, muscular dystrophy can lead to death.

The announcement marked the first time that Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Month has been proclaimed in Lashburn.

Throughout September, Muscular Dystrophy Canada will hold its signature walk fundraiser in many Saskatchewan communities, including Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon.

Back on Aug. 9, the Walk for Muscular Dystrophy came to Lloydminster for the third year and raised around $7,200 for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

“We had two different families and numerous supporters of those families that are consistent in the walk every year,” said Coolidge. “We had maybe about 20 people out this year. It’s growing slowly.”

Since every form of muscular dystrophy is different, symptoms and their progressions over time vary per the individual. However, common symptoms of muscular dystrophy include leg and foot swelling, muscle cramping, joint and muscle pain and fatigue.

These issues often lead to frequent falling and the inability to grip or hold items, which prevents simple tasks such as writing with a pen, eating with cutlery or turning a door handle.

“At this point in time there (are) very mild treatments available to assist with pain and whatnot, but unfortunately all forms of muscular dystrophy are 100 per cent not treatable,” said Coolidge.

As a result, medical interventions like physical and occupational therapy, assistive devices and orthopedic surgery focus on enhancing the quality of life and preserving muscle function.

Muscular dystrophy does not target a specific group of people and over 50,000 Canadians live with one of these genetic diseases.

“There are some forms that they know of right at birth, others that you’re 60 years old before symptoms occur,” said Coolidge.

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