According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, mitochondrial myopathies are a family of diseases that affect the mitochondria (tiny energy powerhouses) within a person’s cells. Symptoms of these conditions include fatigue, muscle weakness, atrophy (or shrinking) of muscles, activity endurance problems, exercise intolerance, and trouble with balance or coordination. Mitochondrial myopathies are caused by caused by genetic mutations. Diagnosis by a physician can be made based on blood enzyme testing, genetic testing, and/or muscle biopsy procedures.
How can physical therapy help?
Your physical therapist will begin by asking you specific questions about your condition, how you’re managing it currently, and how it impacts your daily life. We will then perform a comprehensive evaluation to objectively assess your strength, endurance, balance, and other physical functions. We can then utilize the information from your initial examination to help us chart the progress you are making with your therapy. When treating mitochondrial myopathies, it is important that your therapist has extensive experience working with these conditions as many patients can over-exert themselves with exercise and will need highly customized treatment programs due to the effects of the disease.