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Differences Between Muscular Dystrophy and Cerebral Palsy

author image Lisabetta DiVita
Lisabetta Divita is a physician whose love for writing flourished while she was exposed to all facets of the medical field during her training. Her writings are currently featured in prominent medical magazines and various online publications. She holds a doctorate in medicine, a master's in biomedicine, and a Bachelor of Science in biology from Boston College.
Differences Between Muscular Dystrophy and Cerebral Palsy
A child with cerebral palsy looks up from his wheelchair and smiles at the camera. Photo Credit: jarenwicklund/iStock/Getty Images

Muscular dystrophy refers to a condition that solely involves the muscles while cerebral palsy affects muscles, hearing, speech, learning and thought processes.

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MedlinePlus says there are five types of cerebral palsy: spastic, dyskinetic, hypotonic, ataxic and mixed. There are seven types of muscular dystrophy: Becker's, Duchenne's, Emery-Dreifuss, limb girdle, myotonic, myotonia congenita and fascioscapulohumeral.


MedlinePlus indicates that symptoms of muscular dystrophy include mental retardation and progressive muscle weakness, drooling, eyelid drooping and trouble walking. Cerebral palsy symptoms include muscle tightness, joint tightness, seizures, hearing and visual problems, constipation, urinary incontinence and pain.


Treatment for muscular dystrophy includes taking medications such as corticosteroids and physical therapy. Cerebral palsy treatment includes such medications as muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants and wearing glasses or hearing aids.


Complications of muscular dystrophy include an enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy), trouble breathing and scoliosis (curved spine). Some complications of cerebral palsy include scoliosis, seizures, a dislocated hip and bowel obstruction.

Other Names

According to MedlinePlus, muscular dystrophy is also called inherited myopathy. Cerebral palsy is also called spastic paralysis, spastic hemiplegia and spastic diplegia or quadriplegia.

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