Can simple and low-cost motor function assessments help in the diagnostic suspicion of Duchenne muscular dystrophy?

Pereira AC, Araujo A, Ribeiro MG. Can simple and low-cost motor function assessments help in the diagnostic suspicion of Duchenne muscular dystrophy? Jornal de pediatria. 2019

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an X-linked genetic disease, leads to progressive muscle weakness mainly in the lower limbs. Motor function tests help to monitor disease progression. Can low-cost, simple assessments help in the diagnostic suspicion of Duchenne muscular dystrophy? The authors aim to define the sensitivity of time to rise from the floor, time to walk 10meters (10MWT), and time to run 10meters (10MRT), evaluating them as eventual diagnostic screening tools.

METHODS: This is an analytical, observational, retrospective (1998-2015), and prospective study (2015-2018). Cases were recruited from the database of the pediatric neurology department and the healthy, from child care consultations, with normal gait development (up to 15 months) and without other comorbidities (neuromuscular, pulmonary, heart diseases) from the same university hospital.

RESULTS: 128 Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients and 344 healthy children were analyzed, equally distributed in age groups. In Duchenne muscular dystrophy, there is a progressive increase in the means of the times to perform the motor tests according to the age group, which accelerates very abruptly after 7 years of age. Healthy children acquire maximum motor capacity at 6 years and stabilize their times. The time to rise showed a p-value <0.05 and a strong association (effect size [ES] >0.8) in all age groups (except at 12 years), with 10MWT from 9 years, and with 10MRT, from 5 years. The 100% sensitivity points were defined as follows: time to rise, at 2s; 10MWT, 5s; 10MRT, 4s.

CONCLUSIONS: Time to rise is a useful and simple tool in the screening of neuromuscular disorders such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a previously incurable disease with new perspectives for treatment.

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