Skip Navigation

Get the specialized care you need to live a fuller life at Atrium Health Neurosciences Institute, home to one of the nation’s most comprehensive muscular dystrophy treatment programs.

Our designated Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Care Center provides expertise that’s unmatched in the region. With personalized care and support, our team can help you maintain muscle strength, preserve mobility, cope with changes and maximize your well-being for as long as possible.

New patient appointments are by referral only. Ask your doctor if our program is right for you.

Why choose Atrium Health Neurosciences Institute?

  1. Region’s only MDA Care Center: As a designated MDA Care Center, we offer the highest level of muscular dystrophy care and research. Our clinic is the only certified MDA Care Center in the Charlotte region, and one of only 6 across the Carolinas.
  2. Experienced experts: Our fellowship-trained neuromuscular disease specialists have decades of experience treating muscular dystrophy. Depending on your needs, you and your neuromuscular doctor may also work with other subspecialty physicians to ensure you get complete care.
  3. Lifelong care: Muscular dystrophy requires ongoing care to help you achieve the best quality of life. Along with Atrium Health Levine Children’s, we treat patients of all ages – and your care is customized to meet your changing needs over time.
  4. Convenience and support: Every month, we have multidisciplinary clinic days that allow you to see several members of your care team during a single visit. And our providers are available to answer questions and offer guidance between appointments, so you can get the support you need quickly and easily.
  5. Leaders in muscular dystrophy research: We’re home to one of the Southeast’s most comprehensive research facilities for the study of degenerative neuromuscular diseases like muscular dystrophy. Here, we’re leading groundbreaking research that is transforming care for patients around the world.

Patient care – what we treat

As a certified MDA Care Center, we offer comprehensive care for all types of muscular dystrophy. Some of these include:

  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD)
  • Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD)
  • Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD)
  • Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSH, FSHD)
  • Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD)
  • Myotonic dystrophy (DM)
  • Congenital muscular dystrophy
  • Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)

Muscular dystrophy diagnosis and testing

Our neuromuscular disease specialists can determine whether you have muscular dystrophy and, if so, which type you have. An accurate diagnosis helps us provide the most effective treatments and services for your needs.

To make a diagnosis, your care team will ask about your health history and symptoms. We’ll also do a physical exam and may order additional screening tests.

These tests may include:

  • Electromyogram (EMG): EMG is a test that measures the electrical activity of your nerves and muscles. Our EMG lab is accredited by the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine for high-quality, safe care.
  • Nerve conduction studies (NCS): During this test, also known as a nerve conduction velocity test, small electrodes on your skin stimulate the nerves with a low level of electricity. NCS is often done along with EMG.
  • Blood tests: We may take a blood sample to check for a certain protein that can indicate muscular dystrophy.
  • Genetic testing and counseling: Hereditary muscular dystrophies are caused by a gene abnormality that is passed down in families. We use genetic testing to check for these abnormalities and provide counseling to help you and your family navigate the results.
  • Muscle biopsy: We may refer you to a surgeon to have a tiny piece of muscle taken for examination under a microscope. In some cases, this can help confirm a diagnosis of muscular dystrophy.
  • Pulmonary function testing: Your pulmonary function is your ability to breathe. If you’re diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, you may need regular breathing tests to help your doctor determine if you need assistance with breathing or coughing.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) and echocardiography: These tests are used to check heart function. When appropriate, we perform on-site cardiac testing in our pediatric clinic.

Muscular dystrophy treatments

At Atrium Health Neurosciences Institute, you’ll work with a team of experts to create a custom treatment plan. Our goal is to relieve your symptoms and slow the progress of disease.

Your treatment may include:

  1. Medication: Your care team can provide the latest and most effective medications to help manage your condition. Certain medications, such as steroids for DMD, can slow down muscle loss. Other medications can treat heart problems and other complications.
  2. Physical and occupational therapy: The goal of physical rehabilitation is to strengthen muscles and keep your joints flexible so you can move more easily. Our trained therapists help you maintain your functional abilities and find new ways to perform routine activities.
  3. Speech therapy: If you experience weakness in your facial or throat muscles, our speech pathologists can help you overcome challenges related to communication and swallowing.
  4. Respiratory therapy: Certain types of muscular dystrophy can affect the muscles you use to breathe. Our specialists can help prevent or delay breathing problems and provide devices that relieve breathing-related symptoms.
  5. Gene therapy: Most cases of muscular dystrophy are caused by gene mutations (changes). When appropriate, we may use gene therapy to correct a gene that isn’t working like it should.
  6. Assistive devices: Braces, walkers, wheelchairs and other adaptive equipment can support you in everyday movement and prevent injuries. Our providers can recommend devices for you and your home and teach you how to use them.
  7. Nutritional support: Our dietitian can help you create a personalized plan to address any issues you may have with your diet or nutrition.
  8. Support services: A dedicated social worker is available to patients and caregivers to provide emotional support, care navigation, connection to community resources and more.

Patient resources


The Carolinas Neuromuscular/ALS-MDA Center, part of Atrium Health Neurosciences Institute, is the Southeast’s major comprehensive facility for the study and treatment of hereditary neuromuscular diseases such as muscular dystrophy.

The center has two translational research laboratories: the Carolinas Neuromuscular/ALS Research Laboratory and the McColl-Lockwood Laboratory for Muscular Dystrophy Research. Here, we’re leading groundbreaking research that is transforming care for patients around the world.


Find a clinical trial

Through our in-house neurosciences research, we give patients access to potentially breakthrough therapies.

Use our search tool to explore our current clinical trials. To learn more about our available studies, talk to your doctor.

Search clinical trials

For referring providers

When you refer a patient to us, we keep you involved and up to date throughout their care. To make a referral, call our dedicated physician referral line at 704-468-0101 or send a fax to 704-468-0022.

Frequently asked questions


Our designated MDA Care Center, The Carolinas Neuromuscular/ALS-MDA Center, is located at Atrium Health Neurology Specialty Care Charlotte.

Our providers

Meet some of the muscular dystrophy specialists at our adult MDA Care Center. To request an appointment, please call 704-468-0101.