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Spinal stability is improved by inducing a lumbar lordosis in boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: A pilot study

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Kerr, T. P.; Lin, J. P.; Gresty, M. A.; Morley, T.; Robb, S. A.

The development of scoliosis in boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a significant, morbid event in the progression of the disease caused by progressive spinal musclulature weakness. As an alternative to muscle activity, the spine can also be stabilised by locking the articular facet joints, which is achieved when the body is supported on a seat tilted anteriorly using a ‘wedge’, of the kind commonly recommended for low back pain. We tested spinal stability when using a seat tilted 15 degrees anteriorly in eight boys with DMD, without significant scoliosis, by measuring the ability to support a lateral load applied to the thorax through a sling and hawser. All eight boys tolerated lateral loading better with wedged seating and were able to support an average additional load of 95g per kilogram of body weight compared to normal seating. Lateral load bearing was improved in 10 normal control boys by an average of 40g per kilogram of body weight. These encouraging pilot findings indicate that there is a need for further studies on the effectiveness of passive mechanical factors in spinal stabilisation to delay the development of scoliosis in boys with DMD.

Research abstracts