What is Motor Neuron Disease?

 

Human beings face a lot of challenges during their lifetime. The most difficult come as critical health conditions. Some illnesses may arise from genetic modifications, or from the surrounding environment. Motor Neuron Disease is the term for a group of diseases where neuron messages stop going to muscles. There is no cure for MND, and it is unclear what the cause is.

What is MND?

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MND is a progressive neurological condition which affects the motion neurons in the brain and the spinal cord. The illness makes communication between the brain, spinal cord, and other muscles difficult and eventually leads to the atrophy and wasting of the muscles. As the disease progresses, speech is impaired, walking, holding items, eating, and even breathing becomes difficult.

Common Symptoms of Motor Neuron Disease

The symptoms of MND do not happen all at once; they may also differ from one person to another. The symptoms can include:

  • Muscle cramps and spasms in the hands and feet. Changing positions or light exercise can be therapeutic. However, in severe cases, the doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant
  • Stiffness of joints, which can also be helped by gentle exercises
  • Difficulty in communicating, often characterized by slurred speech
  • Problems swallowing food and water
  • Breathing problems due to weakening of the respiratory muscles
  • Choking or coughing, often associated with difficulty in swallowing as the saliva blocks the airways

Types of Motor Neuron Disease

There are four main types of MND. They affect people differently. Although the condition is not very common, it’s fatal when it occurs. It’s uncommon to get two types of the conditions, although the symptoms may overlap making it hard to distinguish one from another.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

ALS is the most common type of MND that affects a lot of people. It affects both the top and the lower motor neurons. Weariness and the wastage of limbs are characteristics of ALS. Weakness makes it difficult to hold items and also leads to tripping while walking. Upon onset of the symptoms, the Life expectancy is two to five years on average.

Progressive Muscular Atrophy (PMA)

PMA is rarer than the other MND’s. It’s also less severe and affects mainly the lower body neurons. Upon onset of the symptoms, one may live for over five years. Early symptoms include clumsiness of the hands.

Progressive Bulbar Palsy (PBP)

Out of the people diagnosed with MND, about a quarter of them suffer from PBP. It affects both the upper and the bottom motion neurons. Slurred speech is among the first symptoms. Life expectancy is however small, with those affected living an average of six months to three years of onset of the symptoms.

Treatment of MND

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There is no known cure for the disease. However, treatment may help lengthen lifespan while at the same time making the condition much easier to deal with. The only approved drug is Rizole. It does help extend life but is not a cure. Making plans for care is essential for the MND patient.

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