Those following the recent Coronation Street storyline around Steve McDonald played by fan-favourite actor, Simon Gregson, and his DNA, might have been wondering about the condition he has been struggling with, Myotonic Dystrophy.

For those not caught up with the Corrie saga, Steve was due to babies with two different women in fictional Weatherfield: his wife Michelle, played by Kym Marsh, and Leanne Battersby, played by Jane Danson.

His world was rocked when his convict father Jim told him he has the condition and that Steve had a strong genetic disposition to the disease and will likely pass it to his children.

Now, while this might be good for a few weeks’ tension in the convoluted world of soaps, Myotonic Dystrophy is a real condition with, as the show’s dialogue indicates, a genetic component and a propensity to be passed on to children. The disease affects 70,000 people in the UK, and has no cure but can be treated.

As part of the family of Muscular Dystrophies, Myotonic Dystrophy is a progressive condition which affects the muscles and causes them to weaken. It can develop at any age and starts by affecting a particular group of muscles, then spreads throughout the body. The most common areas affected are the muscles of the face, eyelids, neck, hands/forearms and ankles.

The condition is, as yet, incurable, but can be managed. For instance, there are some impressive strides being made in the field of orthotics, and mobility aids. Steroid use has shown some success, in conjunction with physical therapy, in maintaining muscle strength and reducing wastage, and there are posture correcting surgeries that can improve quality of life.

For a parent concerned about a family history of MD, or noticing weaknesses in their muscles, I would advise seeing a GP as soon as practicable, or coming to the Glasgow Medical Rooms for a same-day consultation.

The Coronation Street saga ended up with Steve being given the all clear for the condition. Of course, he’s still fathering children with two different women, but there are some problems even the medical profession can’t help him with.

 

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