MOTOR NEURONE DISEASE is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the motor neurones at the base of the brain and spinal cord. It leads to weakness and wasting of muscles, causing increasing loss of mobility and difficulties with speech, swallowing, and breathing.
Motor neurones carry messages from the brain to the muscles. When they die the muscle weakens and begins to waste away, robbing people of the ability to do every day tasks such as dressing, walking, talking, eating.
MND does not affect touch, taste, sight, smell or hearing, nor directly bladder, bowel or sexual function, and in the vast majority of cases the intellect remains unaffected. It affects people in different ways, however, so no two people will necessarily experience the same symptoms.
WHO GETS MND?
MND can affect any adult at any age, but most people are over the age of 40 and the highest incidence is in the 50-70 age group.
The incidence (the number of people who will develop MND in any one year) in England and Wales is approximately two cases per 100,000; the prevalence (the number who have MND at any one time) is thought to be approx seven per 100,000. The estimated number of people with MND in the UK is up to 5,000.
WHAT CAUSES MND?
The cause of MND is not yet known, but a great deal of research is being carried out and there are encouraging advances in under-standing both the disease process and the way motor neurones function.