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Committed to bringing the latest in neurosciences and staying responsive to the needs of the community, we will soon launch our dream project with a new 100-bedded facility that will bring to the region much needed specialties such as Radiosurgery.

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Motor Neuron Disease

Motor neurone disease (MND) is a rare condition that affects the brain and nervous system. It is most often diagnosed in people in their 60s and 70s, but it can affect adults of all ages.

The disease causes weakness that gets worse over time and can significantly shorten life expectancy.

Symptoms of motor neurone disease often progress gradually and may not be obvious at first.

Early symptoms can include:

  • Weakness in ankles or legs, which may cause difficulty walking or climbing stairs
  • Slurred speech, which may progress to difficulty swallowing some foods
  • A weak grip, which may cause difficulty holding items, opening jars or fastening buttons
  • Muscle cramps and twitches
  • Weight loss, due to muscle wastage in arms or leg over time
  • Crying or laughing in inappropriate situations

Symptoms of motor neuron disease may also be caused by more common conditions. See a doctor if you have possible early symptoms, such as muscle weakness, for assessment. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve outcomes.

The condition is eventually fatal, but life expectancy varies, and some people live for many years or even decades with motor neuron disease.

In individuals with Motor Neuron Disease, cells in the brain and nerves called motor neurones gradually stop working. 

Research is ongoing into Motor Neuron Disease, but the cause is currently not known.

There appears to be an increased risk for those with a close relative with motor neurone disease, or a related condition called frontotemporal dementia. However, the disease does not run in families in most cases.

If a close relative has motor neurone disease or frontotemporal dementia, genetic counselling may be available to talk about your risk and possible tests.

  • Motor neurone disease can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages as there is no single test.

    To help rule out other conditions, a neurologist may recommend:

    • Blood tests
    • Imaging scan of the brain and spine
    • Tests to measure the electrical activity in your muscles and nerves
    • A lumbar puncture (also called a spinal tap) to remove and test the fluid from within your spine.

There is no cure for motor neurone disease, but treatment by a team of specialist doctors, nurses and therapists can help reduce the impact the symptoms have on daily life:

  • Occupational therapy to help with performing everyday tasks
  • Physiotherapy and exercises to maintain strength and reduce stiffness
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Dietary and nutritional advice
  • Riluzole – a drug that can slightly slow down the progression of the condition
  • Medications to relieve muscle stiffness and help with saliva problems

It is important to get the annual flu vaccination, as flu can be very serious if you have motor neurone disease. 

Motor neurone disease gets gradually worse over time. In later stages, moving around, swallowing and breathing get increasingly difficult, and treatments like a feeding tube or breathing air through a face mask may be needed.

Having motor neurone disease can be very challenging. Individuals with the condition and their and carers may benefit from emotional support from counsellors or support groups.

More information and support

You may also find it useful to read more information and advice from the Motor Neurone Disease Association

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