Motor Neurone Disease is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in many parts of the world or Lou Gehrig's disease in America. Lou Gehrig was a famous baseball player who lived with MND. Motor Neurone Disease is an umbrella term for a group of diseases in which the nerve cells which are also called neurones,become progressively worse over time. Neurones control the muscles that allow us to eat, speak, dance, walk, swallow and breathe. Many people can live for a long time with MND but the average life expectancy is 2 to 3 years from diagnosis. That's pretty scary isn't it. I know when I was told I had between six to nine years from date of diagnosis in 2006, I almost passed out from the shock.
Usually people will find that their initial symptoms are mild and generally reveal themselves with a loss of muscle function in their hands or feet. Then, the degeneration of nerves leads to the loss of muscle function throughout their entire body. Its progression can be slow or rapid and varies significantly from person to person. Lung capacity can be compromised which means breathing becomes difficult and even swallowing can be affected. Most people with MND retain all senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch) their intellect and memory.Damage to these nerves causes muscle weakness and wasting. This leads to gradual paralysis, loss of speech,finding it difficult to swallow and eventual death from respiratory (breathing) failure.Usually pneumonia can be the cause of this.
People with motor neurone disease (MND) gradually lose the use of their muscles and often need help with personal care, such as using the toilet, washing and dressing. They may also need support to cope with the emotional impact of a progressive disabling illness. Access to appropriate aids and equipment, as well as emotional and psychological support, can help.
MND is a non-contagious disease that affects approximately 1,400 people in Australia. For most, the cause is unknown although research taking place around the world currently focuses on genetic factors, toxic factors and the potential for stem cell therapy. While MND most commonly appears in people aged between 40 – 60 years old and slightly more men than women, it can affect adults of any age.
I hope this is helped people to understand more about this horrible disease. As someone who also suffers from a neurodegenerative disease, I know what it's like to go through a lot of these symptoms on a daily basis.