Recent studies in patients with muscular dystrophies suggest positive effects of aerobic and strength training. These studies focused training on using bicycle ergometers and conventional strength training, which precludes more severely affected patients from participating, because of their weakness. We investigated the functional effects of combined aerobic and strength training in patients with Becker and limb-girdle muscular dystrophies with knee muscle strength levels as low as 3% of normal strength. Eight patients performed 10weeks of aerobic and strength training on an anti-gravity treadmill, which offered weight support up to 80% of their body weight. Six minute walking distance, dynamic postural balance, and plasma creatine kinase were assessed 10weeks prior to training, immediately before training and after 10weeks of training. Training elicited an improvement of walking distance by 8±2% and dynamic postural balance by 13±4%, indicating an improved physical function. Plasma creatine kinase remained unchanged. These results provide evidence that a combination of aerobic and strength training during anti-gravity has the potential to safely improve functional ability in severely affected patients with Becker and limb-girdle muscular dystrophies.
Neuromuscular Disorders, 2014, Vol 24, Issue 6, p. 492-498