The lives of thousands of children who suffer debilitating muscle degenerative disorders could be dramatically enhanced as doctors launch a new tool that opens the door to treatment before conditions fully take hold.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), in partnership with the John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre in Newcastle and the Great North Children’s Hospital, has developed an e-learning tool which aims to help healthcare professionals identify the early signs of muscle disease.

The new e-learning resource aims to equip health professionals with the information to identify conditions such as Spinal Muscular Atrophy and Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the earliest opportunity. This will in turn, allow treatment to begin much earlier which not only has the potential to enhance mobility and prolong life but will also allow family members to be tested to assess the risk of the condition being passed on to future generations.

In the UK, more than 70,000 people have Muscular Dystrophy or a related condition. Doctors say this new resource, aimed at health visitors, GPs, nurses and physiotherapists will void the gap of knowledge that currently exists and will finally enable awareness to catch up with the science.

With this early identification, they hope that more children can take advantage of the revolutionary new drugs on offer which have the potential to greatly enhance muscle strength, improve quality of life and survival.  Currently, science is well ahead of awareness so this new tool could be a game changer for patient outcomes.

The e-learning, which is aimed at healthcare professionals such as nurses, GPs and physiotherapists, comprises clear and easily understandable video footage of normal and abnormal development and provides clear action points at five key stages of motor development that will give the user confidence in knowing how to identify a child at risk and what to do next.