Device Allows Monitoring of Lung Function at Home For Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Patients

According to a story from EurekAlert!, monitoring lung function is an important role of managing Duchenne muscular dystrophy and other diseases that can cause wasting of the respiratory muscles. Many patients ultimately pass away due to complications involving the heart or lungs. A recent study documents the effectiveness of a hand held device that children and older patients can use to monitor their lung function outside of the clinical setting.

About Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a neuromuscular disease, and it is one of the more severe types of muscular dystrophy. It is characterized by progressive muscle weakness that usually begins around age four and worsens quickly. As an X-linked genetic disease, boys are mostly affected, with girls only occasionally displaying mild symptoms. The disease is caused by mutations of the dystrophin gene. Symptoms of Duchenne muscular dystrophy include falling, abnormal walking posture, eventual loss of walking ability, muscle fiber deformities, intellectual disability (not in all cases), enlargement of the tongue and calf muscles, skeletal deformities, muscle atrophy, heart abnormalities, and difficulty with breathing. Treatment includes a variety of medications and therapies that can help alleviate symptoms and slow disease progression. Lifespan is usually into the thirties with good care. Better treatments for this disease are urgently needed. To learn more about Duchenne muscular dystrophy, click here.

Testing The New Lung Function Monitor

The new device makes monitoring lung function much simpler and can provide caregivers the necessary data to manage Duchenne muscular dystrophy more effectively. This was the first research to document the use of a hand held device in patients with the disorder. The study also found that patients were more likely to use the device as frequently as directed and the data was found to be just as reliable as that used in hospital procedures like spirometry. 

Having access to a handheld device would make it easier for patients to monitor lung function more frequently. This could allow for the detection of disease progression to happen more quickly. The study also tested the drug idebenone, commonly used to treat this disease, and used both spirometry and the hand held device to test the effect of the drug on lung function. This proved that the device was accurate enough to be used to test other drugs in the future.

Check out the original study here.

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