Creating Awareness for Motor Neurone Disease

About MND

The motor neurone diseases (MND) are a group of neurological disorders that affect the motor neurones in our body.

MND leads to progressive disability and death. Currently there is no cure for MND. Research is aimed at finding causes and a cure for MND.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is the most common form of MND and is commonly refered to as Motor Neurone Disease. Professor Stephen Hawking is a well-known person with MND, and has lived for nearly 50 years with the disease.

Motor Neurones are specialised nerve cells that control voluntary muscle activity including speaking, walking, breathing, swallowing and general movement of the body.

Without nerves to activate them, the muscles gradually weaken and waste causing progressive disability. The patterns and rate of progression of disease vary from person to person. MND is typically fatal within 2–5 years.

Around 50% of patients die within 14 months of diagnosis. 1 in 5 patients survive for 5 years, and 1 in 10 patients survive 10 years. 300,000 people worldwide are living with MND with 1400 Australians are currently living with MND, each day at least one person dies from MND and another is diagnosed, 100,000 people die each year from MND, there are 500 Australians newly diagnosed with MND each year, the youngest person diagnosed with MND in Australia was 17. MND affects all ethnic groups, races and both males and females.

About 90% of patients with MND have no family history of the disease and it appears to have no known cause. Genetic factors are suspected to be important in a persons susceptibility to MND. MND is clinically diagnosed by a neurologist on the basis of history and neurological examination as there is no diagnostic test for MND. Investigations are useful to rule out other disorders.

Although symptoms may present in one region of the body, they will typically spread. After time most patients require help to carry out activities of daily living such as self care, feeding, and transportation. Treatment of patients with MND focuses on disease symptom relief. Management of the disease by a variety of specialist health professionals is vital to maintaining quality of life and assisting with symptom control. The drug riluzole can slow progression slightly. MND has a significant impact on the physical and emotional well being of the carer.