Magnetic Resonance Imaging Studies in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: Linking Findings to the Physical Therapy Clinic

Claudia R. Senesac, Alison M. Barnard, Donovan J. Lott, Kavya S. Nair, Ann T. Harrington, Rebecca J. Willcocks, Kirsten L. Zilke, William D. Rooney, Glenn A. Walter, Krista Vandenborne

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a muscle degenerative disorder that manifests
in early childhood and results in progressive muscle weakness. Physical therapists have
long been an important component of the multidisciplinary team caring for people
with DMD, providing expertise in areas of disease assessment, contracture management,
assistive device prescription, and exercise prescription. Over the last decade, magnetic
resonance imaging of muscles in people with DMD has led to an improved understanding
of the muscle pathology underlying the clinical manifestations of DMD. Findings from
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies in DMD, paired with the clinical expertise of
physical therapists, can help guide research that leads to improved physical therapist care
for this unique patient population. The 2 main goals of this perspective article are to
(1) summarize muscle pathology and disease progression findings from qualitative and
quantitative muscle MRI studies in DMD and (2) link MRI findings of muscle pathology to
the clinical manifestations observed by physical therapists with discussion of any potential
implications of MRI findings on physical therapy management.


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