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The disease causes muscle weakness. The patient is awkward and often seeks support while walking to prevent falls. As the disease progresses, the muscles, particularly those of the calf, thigh, buttocks, and back, enlarge. The upper extremities are less frequently affected. When the patient stands erect, the feet are wide apart, the abdomen protrudes, and the spinal column shows a marked curvature with convexity forward. Rising from the recumbent position is accomplished by grasping the knees or by resting the hands on the floor in front, extending the legs and pushing the body backward. The gait is characterized by waddling. In a few years the paralysis becomes so marked that the patient is unable to leave the bed, which leads to further generalized muscular atrophy.
Physical therapy helps to prevent contractures, but there is no effective therapy. The prognosis for this disease is unfavorable.