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Motor Neuron Disease
Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells controlling muscles of movement are slowly destroyed. These nerve cells are known as motor neurones, and they occur in the brain and spinal cord. With no nerves to control them the muscles gradually weaken and waste away. MND is progressive i.e. it becomes more and more severe as time passes.
There is currently no known cause for this disease although many possibilities have been explored and research is continuing into some of them. These include possible viral infection, long term poisoning with certain heavy metals such as lead and mercury, nutritional deficiencies and abnormalities of nerve growth and development. No evidence exists to suggest that MND is in any way contagious or 'catching'. Most patients are over 40 years old although there are cases found throughout all age groups.
Men seem to be more affected than women and about one patient in 15 comes from a family with a previous record of MND. Approximately one person in 14 000 will develop MND in any one year.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Motor Neurone Disease usually begins with weakness in the hands, feet and throat, and may be accompanied by twitching and cramp. With time it may spread to the arms, legs and chest, resulting in difficulties with speech, swallowing, breathing and a general immobility. People with MND may experience problems with drooling of saliva, inability to cough effectively and reduced tongue movement. Muscle pain is common in this disorder.
Due to weakness in the lungs these people are prone to lung infections such as pneumonia and may die as a result of these secondary infections.
In later stages of MND some patients may appear to have lost voluntary control over their emotions. He/she may suddenly laugh or cry inappropriately although there is no impairment of the intellect and MND does not directly affect bowel, bladder or sexual function.
Motor Neurone Disease is a serious medical condition and must be diagnosed and treated by a Doctor. Unfortunately there is no known cure for MND at this time although many studies are underway in an effort to find the cause and treat this disease effectively.
As with any life threatening illness, people with Motor Neurone disease require empathy, support and understanding. Depression may be a problem for some people as they come to terms with their condition and should seek advice from their Doctor. As the patient's mobility decreases, certain practical changes may be required about the home to make life as easy and comfortable as possible. A light exercise programme may be recommended along with physiotherapy, speech therapy and dietary changes as the disease progresses.
ORGANISATIONS & SUPPORT GROUPS
Motor Neuron Disease Care - http://www.mndcare.net.au/
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Your Pharmacist may be able to advise you on products made to assist people with limited mobility.
2. If dietary intake is inadequate your Pharmacist may recommend a Multivitamin and mineral supplement in an easily swallowed form.