What is MND?
Motor Neurone Disease is the name used to describe a group of diseases in which the nerve cells (neurones) in the brain and spinal cord that control the way we walk, talk, eat, swallow, and breathe progressively die. In some countries, MND is known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and in the US, it is also called Lou Gehrig’s disease.
To learn more go to Taylor and Francis online
Given these details, the term ALS is widely adopted in other countries, as it demonstrates the impact of MND on the body.
When the neurones begin to die, the muscles that they control can no longer receive messages from the brain. The muscles become weaker and weaker, and eventually stop working, leaving people motionless, unable to talk, and trapped in their bodies. In most cases the mind is left intact, but some patients have MND and a form of dementia known as Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)1.
In MND, no one person is the same – where the weakness first starts, how the weakness progresses, and the rate at which the weakness progresses is different from person to person. Although some people can live a long time with MND, the average life expectancy is 27 months following diagnosis.
Stumbling or tripping due to weakness of the leg muscles
Trouble holding onto objects due to weakness of the hands
Difficulties in swallowing or slurring of speech due to weakness of the tongue and throat muscles
Cramps and muscle twitching (fasciculations)
If the general practitioner suspects that there is a neurological problem, they may refer the person a neurologist.
Neurologists depend on a number of signs, patterns, and techniques to diagnose MND. They look for clinical signs when examining a patient, evidence of gradual progression and worsening of symptoms over time, and they use nerve conduction studies and electromyography tests to assist with the diagnosis.
Because a lot of other neurological conditions can look similar to MND, neurologists also need to ‘rule out’ other potential diagnoses before confirming a diagnosis of MND2. Confirmation of diagnosis of MND takes on average, 10 to 18 months from symptom onset3.