Study Illuminates the Need for More Research in Easing Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Symptoms

A recent study has illuminated the need for further research into how different forms of exercise may provide certain benefits for patients living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT).

This study was published in the European Journal of Molecular & Clinical Medicine. It was written by Arsalan Moinuddin who is a doctor and professor at Texas Tech University. His aim was to summarize the research currently done on the topic of exercise and CMT and showcase where there are gaps in the literature.

CMT

CMT impacts the nervous system in the body, affecting movement. Patients experience many different symptoms including physical and muscle weakness.

Unfortunately, there is no standard treatment regimen for CMT patients regarding exercise.

Although various forms of exercise have been said to benefit patients, this study makes it clear a deeper analysis is necessary.

The Study 

Arsalan found that besides the lack of overall research regarding exercise, most of the studies that do exist aren’t very strong. The issue is most investigations have small sample sizes and utilize surveys as their primary source for analyzing outcomes from exercise.

Although these types of studies allow for researchers to better understand patient perceptions, they aren’t great at illuminating the physical benefits of various forms of exercise.  They don’t look at the biological consequences of different forms of physical activity.

We know the biochemical processes that help muscles growth. We just don’t know what types of exercise regimens could benefit CMT patients specifically.

More research is needed regarding the histochemical, metabolic, and architectural adaptations to movement in this patient population.

Current Studies

The current studies discussed two primary forms of exercise which can be beneficial. One is resistance training, such as lifting weights, and the other is endurance training, which includes activities such as walking and running.

Endurance

Walking specifically has been shown to demonstrate improvement in patient’s posture, balance, and walking ability. Additionally, these benefits were found with normal walking in addition to when patients used a treadmill.

Overall, the research shows similar benefits for walking for CMT patients as they do for individuals living with some type of muscular dystrophy disorder.

Resistance Training

Resistance training has shown less significant benefits for patients overall. There weren’t statistically significant benefits for patients in regard to strength gain.

The research shows that resistance training specifically can be more difficult for patients to implement. Many patients utilize braces which can get in the way of strength training.

However, researchers are still confident that this type of exercise could help to improve severity of symptoms and delay the severity of the condition.

The Takeaway

Due to the nature of CMT, many patients are less physically active than the typical individual. This can increase their fatigue and the severity of their symptoms.

Different forms of exercise can provide specific benefits for individuals living with CMT.

Overall, improved exercise habits could improve physical symptoms and self confidence in CMT patients. This growing confidence could also lead to a cyclical relationship – leading to more exercise.

You can read more about this study here.

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