Pediatric Neuromuscular Disease

Care for Children with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Other Neuromuscular Disorders

Children with neuromuscular diseases, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy, have varied needs that change with age and disease progression. In addition to strength and mobility problems, children can develop lung, heart, skeletal, and digestive conditions. Duke Children’s offers comprehensive care in one convenient location to treat these conditions and help maintain your child’s level of motor function as long as possible. We help children reach their full potential at home, in school, and in the community.

What Are Neuromuscular Diseases?

Neuromuscular diseases include hundreds of different disorders that affect the nervous system and cause progressive muscle weakness. They include:

  • Muscular dystrophies
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Mitochondrial disorders

Because neuromuscular diseases can affect so many bodily functions, your child’s care is personalized to his or her needs. Our team of experts includes specialists that address those needs. Overall, our team includes a pediatric neurologist, pediatric pulmonologist, pediatric cardiologist, physical and occupational therapists, a nutritionist, and a social worker. We also collaborate with pediatric-specific experts in endocrinology, orthopedic surgery, gastroenterology, and genetics.

Expert Care for Your Child

  • We maintain a nationally recognized muscular dystrophy center. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common and most severe form of muscular dystrophy. As a Certified Duchenne Care Center, a designation awarded by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, our center is recognized for providing the highest standards in treatment and subspecialty services.
  • We specialize in treating children with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare, potentially life-threatening disease that leaves many children unable to walk, eat by mouth, or breathe independently. We intervene early with babies, helping them with basic life functions such as breathing and swallowing. We partner with families to align treatments with their values and goals.
  • The pediatric pulmonologist who co-leads our neuromuscular program serves on the Medical Advisory Council for CureSMA, a national patient advocacy organization pursuing a cure for spinal muscular atrophy. He helps set national medical guidelines for children with SMA.
  • We are actively involved in the latest SMA and muscular dystrophy research.
  • As a member of the Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group, we work closely with doctors and scientists throughout the U.S. and around the world who are studying neuromuscular diseases.
  • Your child may have access to innovative therapies through clinical trials. 


Evaluating your child for neuromuscular disease includes a complete medical and family history and physical exam to check muscle strength. Tests are used to further diagnose neuromuscular disease.

Ongoing Care

There is currently no cure for neuromuscular diseases; treatment targets your child’s specific symptoms to slow disease progression and improve quality of life. For your convenience, your child’s care is all in one place -- on one floor -- at the Lenox Baker Children’s Hospital, which features attached parking and an entrance ramp. We also schedule your child’s appointments on the same day whenever possible, to minimize the inconvenience of multiple trips.

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