What Is MND
MND And The Nervous System
Motor Neurone Disease destroys specific nerve cells in the body that carry the signals from the brain to muscles, thse nerve cells are called motor neurones. The nerves form a branch network throughout the body and as MND progresses the branches begin to die so the signals no longer reach muscles, which progressively stop working and then waste away. The muscles most often affected could be in the legs and arms and sometimes include those needed to talk, eat, drink and swallow. The five senses, touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing are not affected by MND and neither are muscles like the heart and stomach.
Motor Neurone Disease is not infectious. Over 120 people develop MND in Scotland every year. The symptoms of MND vary in different ways depending on the job of the damaged motor neurones in the body. There are four common forms of Motor Neurone Disease but people with MND will often experience considerable overlap amoung the symptoms of each form as the disease progresses. However, MND affects every individual differently and the rate of progression can also vary. There is no current cure or known cause of MND.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
ALS is the most common form of MND, and is characterised by muscle weakness and stiffness, over-active reflexes and rapidly changing emotions. The motor neurones that carry messages to make the arms and legs to move are affected; as a result the limbs cease to work properly causing paralysis. ALS is the term most commonly applied to MND in the USA.
Some Common Questions
What Are The Symptoms Of MND?
Early symptoms can include twitching muscles, weakness and loss of weight. Loss of mobility occurs if neurones in the legs and arms are damaged. Drinking, eating and talking can become increasingly difficult when the neurones serving the mouth and throat are affected. Muscls weakened by MND do not recover, but there may be periods of weeks or months where the illness does not seem to progress.
What is Not Affected?
MND is not a mental illness, in a few cases however some people may find their intellect and memory affected. It does not normally affect the 5 senses (touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing), feeling in the affected limbs remains normal. Incontinence is rare, reduced mobility however, may disturb bowel and bladder function as the illness progresses. Sexual desire and function are not directly affected.
How Is MND Treated?
Some people with MND find a drug called Riluzole slows the preogress of their illness. Symptoms can be treated with medical treatment, specialised equipment and psychological support. Apart from these measures there is no specific treatment for MND.
Is MND Hereditary?
Five to ten percent of all MND cases are known to be inherited and more than 24 different genes have been implicated in different kinds of MND to date. Research into different genes have been implicated indifferent kinds of MND to date. Research into the inherited forms of MND is the single largest area of MND research at the moment as it is easier to track down genetic mutations when they are shared by more than one person with the same illness within a family since they probably share the same mutation. Finding genetic mutations within unrelated people is very difficult at present as they may all have different mutations to the same gene, or to different genes.
What Has research Achieved?
Research to find a cause and cure for MND is gathering pace around the world. Drug trials are generally laboratory base, although some projects have moved on to clinical trials with human volunteers. Stem cell therapy treatments are being investigated, however stem cells would need to be inserted directly into the nervous system to be effective since injections of nerve stem cells into the bloodstream are unable to cross into the nervous system. Assumin stem cells could be placed into the nervous system it is not yet known how to encourage them to start to grow and even less is known about how to ensure they connect every muscle fibre to the appropriate part of the brain which controls that muscle.
This text has been reproducedfrom literature supplied by the Scottish Motor Nureone Disease Association.