Motor Neurone Disease (MND), also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is a disease that damages the nerve cells that control the muscles. The affected muscles become wasted and weak. The patients are getting worse gradually until they fail to move, swallow, speak and breath; and they finally die.
The cause of MND is unknown, but some patients are affected by genetic factors. Most people with MND can only live for a few years after the onset of symptoms. If difficulty in swallowing or breathing is an early symptom, they may even die within several months.
The common symptoms that are getting worse by themselves include:
If a person’s hand or arm muscles are weak, he or she may encounter problems in the followings:
If a person’s leg muscles are weak, he or she may encounter problems in the followings:
If a person’s head, neck or chest muscles are weak, he or she may have the following problems:
Some MND patients have mood changes. They may laugh, cry or yawn without reasons. Some others may have problems in normal thinking.
Yes. Your doctor might be able to tell if you have it by learning more about your symptoms and doing physical examination. Your doctor might arrange some tests to help the diagnostic process. These might include:
MND does not have a cure or an effective treatment for nerve cell regeneration. Medical research has found that two drugs may slightly prolong the life expectancy of patients with MND. The first one, riluzole (brand name: Rilutek ®), is an oral medicine that helps some patients live a few months longer by slowing down the progression of the disease a bit. The other drug, edaravone (brand name: Radicava®), is given by intravenous infusion and might also help slow the worsening in some early diseased patients. However, none of these treatments can effectively improve the quality of life of the treated one.
Although MND cannot be cured, some therapies might be helpful to relieve the distressing symptoms of the patients. These therapies include:
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