Background: There are no guidelines as to when and what type of first mobility devices should be ordered for patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). There are no studies looking at what therapists are ordering for this patient population and how they came to those decisions. It is imperative that we provide the best equipment for these patients and avoid inappropriate recommendations.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to understand current equipment decisions made by physical and occupational therapists (PT and OT) for patients with DMD.
Methods: Sixty physical and occupational therapists (57/3) were surveyed online via email through approved PT and OT listservs and Muscular Dystrophy associations. .
Results: Only therapists who make equipment recommendations for this patient population completed the survey (56/60). The majority of therapists have been practicing for more than 10 years (70%) and see patients with DMD 1-2x/ month (31.7%). The first mobility device typically recommended to patients varied among respondents: self-propelled manual wheelchair (38%), manual wheelchair with power assist wheels (28%), power scooter (26%) and adaptive stroller (24%). Practitioners stated that they recommended a patient’s first mobility device at the age of 5-8 y/o (50%) and when they were unable to walk greater than 30 minutes (78%). Sixty-five percent of therapists say that they have seen inappropriate equipment recommendations.
Conclusions: There is large variability in recommendations for first mobility devices for patients with DMD and therapists report that they have seen inappropriate equipment ordered.
Implications: It is important that there is a consensus among therapists when ordering equipment for patients with DMD. More studies are necessary to measure the benefits of different mobility devices and their features at different stages of the disease so that we can provide patients with DMD with the most appropriate equipment.