An Overview of Pediatric Neuromuscular Disorders

Neuromuscular disorders don’t just affect adults—they can afflict children, too. These diseases attack the peripheral nervous system, which can cause muscle weakness and pain, among other issues. If your child is suffering from a pediatric neuromuscular disorder, they may need assistive devices like prosthetics or orthotics from our laboratory in Farmingdale, NY.

Here’s an overview of neuromuscular disorders, their symptoms and how they’re treated.

What are neuromuscular disorders?

Neuromuscular disorders affect children as well as adults. They primarily affect the peripheral nervous system, which includes all the nerves outside of the spinal cord and brain. Neuromuscular disorders also affect the muscles, the motor-nerve cells in the spinal cord, neuromuscular junctions and the peripheral nerves in the limbs.

These disorders are often inherited genetically, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, congenital myasthenic syndromes, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and congenital myopathies. However, other types of neuromuscular disorders can be caused by other circumstances such as disease or immune system imbalances. Diabetes, toxic substances and other diseases like cancer can cause neuromuscular disorders without a genetic component.

If you are a neuromuscular disorder carrier, genetic testing and counseling is available to discuss the possibility of whether your children will inherit the disorder. This helps potential parents make decisions about whether to have children and how to care for future children who may have the disorders.

What are the symptoms of neuromuscular disorders?

If your child has shown any of these symptoms, it’s worth discussing neuromuscular disorders with their pediatrician:

  • Low muscle tone: This is also called hypotonia. It’s different than muscle weakness, although it can make it more difficult to use the muscles. For example, if your one-year-old still has a hard time holding their head up, that would be a sign of low muscle tone.
  • Muscle weakness or atrophy: Muscle weakness and atrophy are a related sign of neuromuscular disorders. If your child is struggling to perform tasks like holding a full sippy cup, sitting up or walking, see your pediatrician.
  • Delayed motor skills: Delayed motor milestones, like taking an abnormally long time to start walking and crawling, or displaying an abnormal gait, are all signs of neuromuscular issues.

What kind of treatment is available?

Depending on your child’s specific diagnosis, there are a variety of treatments available. Some diseases are quite serious and require genetic therapies. Others can be treated with non-genetic therapies like drugs, assistive devices and nutritional or breathing intervention.

Some neuromuscular disorders lead to the need for orthotics. For example, spinal muscular atrophies often result in scoliosis, which can be treated with braces and other prosthetics or orthotics in Farmingdale, NY. 

If your child requires an orthotic device, Prothotic Labratories, Inc. can help. We specialize in pediatric orthotics, with extensive experience in the orthotic management of diseases and disorders like cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy and neuromuscular and idiopathic scoliosis. Our specialists offer the highest quality orthotics to give your child the best quality of life possible, and we offer onsite fabrication of prosthetics and other devices in our Farmingdale, NY lab. Call us today to learn more about our services.