Neuromuscular disorders involve the ways in which muscles and nerves communicate. These conditions often involve disruptions to the neuromuscular junction (the spot where signals travel between nerves and muscles), problems with the anterior horn cells in the spinal cord (the motor neurons) or problems with the muscles and nerves themselves.
Many neuromuscular disorders are genetic (passed from parent to child) while others are caused by autoimmune conditions (when the body’s immune system attacks itself) such as myasthenia gravis and Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Types of neuromuscular disorders include:
When muscles cannot receive signals from the nerves, they do not work properly and become weak. This muscle weakness can cause many different symptoms. Symptoms of neuromuscular disorders include:
If your child shows signs of a neuromuscular disorder, getting an accurate and specific diagnosis makes planning for future care more successful. Some neuromuscular conditions do not progress or change over time while others can worsen and cause conditions such as cardiomyopathy and breathing problems associated with some muscular dystrophies.
Doctors at Riley at IU Health perform the following exams and tests to diagnose neuromuscular disorders:
At Riley at IU Health, a team of neurologists and other pediatric specialists—including experts in genetics, pulmonology, heart care, physical and occupational therapy, physical medicine and rehabilitation, orthopedics and nutrition—treat neuromuscular disorders.
Treatments for neuromuscular disorders are specific to each patient’s symptoms but often focus on reducing your child's symptoms and improving strength and mobility. Treatments include:
While there are no cures for neuromuscular disorders, there is hope, thanks to research studies now underway. This research is leading to many treatment advances, which is improving care.
View these links to discover support groups and more resources for neuromuscular conditions.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
This website from the National Institutes of Health provides information about clinical trials for neuromuscular disorders. Talk to your child’s doctor about participating in specific studies.
MDA provides families with information and resources to manage life with a neuromuscular disease.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.
Sort through 5 facilities offering Neuromuscular Disorders care by entering your city or zip below.