Monday the 21st of June is what’s known as the global MND Awareness Day.
It is a day focussed on raising awareness of this cruel disease as well as funding for research. Associations like the MNDA have already been working on MND research for the past 5 decades.
In the UK today, there are near 5,000 people living with MND. It can affect you at any age but the majority of those diagnosed are over the age of 50. According to the MNDA, we all have a 1 in 300-lifetime risk of developing MND.
Across the globe, June has always been known as the month for MND Awareness and funding. This week, we wanted to do our bit in sharing more about this devastating disease to help build awareness and a deeper understanding.
What is Motor Neurone Disease?
MND is a fatal, rapidly progressing disease that affects your brain and spinal cord. It attacks the nerves that control movement, meaning that your muscles no longer work as they should. In general, it doesn’t affect the senses such as sight, sound, feeling, etc.
Around 35% experience a mild cognitive change causing issues and difficulties with planning, decision making, and language. Motor neurone disease does not discriminate, it can affect people from all communities.
The most devastating fact about MND is that it can leave people locked in a failing body, unable to move, talk, swallow and eventually breathe.
Causes of Motor Neurone Disease:
There is no clear cut answer on what can cause MND, as different things may trigger the disease for each person. It is believed that a number of genetic, environmental and lifestyle risk factors need to combine before most form of MND can develop.
These risk factors together could possibly top the balance towards someone developing the disease. Understanding these factors and how they combine is helping researchers discover and understand the disease as well as the best way to tackle it.
When it comes to MND, your genes have little impact on whether or not you could develop the disease.
Lifestyle factors that might assist in the development of motor neurone disease could be:
- Military service
- High levels of exercise
- trauma (mechanical or electrical)
Environmental factors that could possibly assist in MND’s development could also be:
- Exposure to a variety of heavy metals
- Exposure to agricultural chemicals
PLEASE NOTE: There are no clear conclusions on definite risk factors for developing MND. Research on this is still ongoing.
Diagnosing Motor Neurone Disease:
MND can be quite difficult to diagnose, especially in its early stages. There is no single test for it and there are other conditions that have similar symptoms. In order to rule those conditions out your doctor may arrange for you to have:
- Blood tests
- Brain & spine scan
- Muscle & nerve tests
- Spinal Tap/Lumbar puncture
Symptoms of Motor Neurone Disease:
MND is a tricky disease, it affects everyone differently. Symptoms will not show up in the same order or even at the same speed as others. Possible symptoms of motor neurone disease could be:
- Stiff joints
- Breathing problems
- Muscle weakness
- Swallowing difficulties
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Speech and communication problems
- Weakened coughing
Treatment Options Available:
Sadly, there is no known cure for this devastating and cruel disease. It cannot be reversed or stopped. There are a number of therapies, medication and equipment to help you manage the symptoms.
- Working with an occupational therapist to help make everyday tasks at home easier
- Physiotherapy to help you maintain muscle strength and reduce stiffness
- Medication to help with stiffness
- Medication that may help slow the progression of the disease
- Discussions with a healthcare professional on diet, language and overall mental health
There are a number of mobility aids and daily living aids to have for the home to help make your life easier. Talk to your occupational therapist today and they will be able to guide and assist you with them.
Uccello Kettle – Ideal Kitchen Aid:
Designed to help those with limited strength and mobility. If you are having issues with grip and stiff joints, this is one of the safest options for handling hot water at home. Click here to learn more.