Neuromuscular Respiratory Disease

Neuromuscular diseases are conditions in which the neuromuscular system – the nerve cells and muscles that work together to move the body – is compromised. Symptoms can vary from mild to critical, are often progressive, and include pain, weakness, numbness, cramping, paralysis, and spasticity. Neuromuscular disorders affect nearly 1.5 million Americans each year.

Some common neuromuscular disorders treated at UT Southwestern Medical Center include:

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Often called “Lou Gehrig's disease,” amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is one of the more common neuromuscular disorders. More than 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS in the U.S. each year. ALS involves a breakdown of motor neurons that work to control voluntary muscle movements. While there is no cure for the disease, our specialists utilize the latest therapies and treatments to help slow the disease’s progress and manage its symptoms.
Muscular Dystrophies
Muscular dystrophies (MD) are a group of more than 30 disorders that cause progressive and degenerative weakness of voluntary muscles. No treatment for reversing the effects of these disorders exists, but several treatments and therapies for improving a patient’s outlook can be recommended and directed by UT Southwestern physicians.
Myasthenia Gravis
This autoimmune neuromuscular disease affects voluntary muscle movement, when communication between nerve impulses and muscles is interrupted. Treatments include surgical options and therapies to improve muscle weakness. UT Southwestern researchers have published new findings about the underlying genetic causes of myasthenia gravis, providing physicians with yet another avenue to explore for the treatment of this condition.

UT Southwestern physicians also treat Guillain-Barre syndrome, inflammatory myopathies, motor neuron diseases, and peripheral neuropathies.

Evaluation

For impaired lung function due to a neuromuscular disorder, UT Southwestern offers advanced therapies and pulmonary rehabilitation services. Our pulmonologists work closely with patients to reduce symptoms and ameliorate conditions related to reduced lung functioning due to neuromuscular respiratory disease.

Our lung specialists will thoroughly evaluate how the functioning of the central or peripheral nervous system may contribute to impairment in patients’ respiratory systems and prescribe the right therapies for their specific conditions. Specialists can help improve functioning of the respiratory muscles that are needed for effective lung ventilation by accurately diagnosing any relationship between neurological and neuromuscular disorders.

Treatments

While not all neuromuscular disorders have specific therapies available, a number of these diseases can be treated, often with a variety of immunosuppressive medications. Our physicians deliver compassionate care and take advantage of cutting-edge lung treatments that build on the groundbreaking research conducted at UT Southwestern.

Our pulmonologists identify how patients’ neuromuscular and neurological conditions are related, so the treatments provided are most precisely tied to the condition. UT Southwestern lung specialists also partner with patients to address reduced lung volume or other conditions that affect their health.

Besides a pulmonologist, your lung care team may include neuromuscular neurologists, physical therapists, speech pathologists, respiratory therapists, psychologists, dietitians, and social workers. These specialists will help you access all needed therapies and rehabilitation services to reduce how neuromuscular respiratory disease affects your lungs.

Our Specialists

UT Southwestern’s Neuromuscular Disease Service offers a multidisciplinary team of physicians and health care providers for patients suffering from conditions such as ALS, myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophies, peripheral neuropathies, and inflammatory myopathies.

The clinical practices are partially sponsored by the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation, and are recognized by the Neuropathy Association.