Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that attacks the upper and lower motor neurones.
Degeneration of the motor neurones leads to weakness and wasting of muscles, causing increasing loss of mobility in the limbs, and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing.
The muscles first affected tend to be those in the hands, feet and mouth, dependent on which type of the disease you are diagnosed with.
Types of Motor Neurone Disease:
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
This is the most common form of MND, with both upper and lower motor neurone involvement. This form of the disease is characterised by weakness and wasting in the limbs. Someone may notice they are tripping when walking or dropping things. This tends to be the condition most seen by neuro physiotherapists.
Progressive Bulbar Palsy (PBP)
Affects about a quarter of people diagnosed, and involves both the upper and lower motor neurones. Symptoms may include slurring of speech or difficulty swallowing.
Progressive Muscular Atrophy (PMA)
Affects only a small proportion of people, mainly causing damage to the lower motor neurones. Early symptoms may be noticed as weakness or clumsiness of the hand.
Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS)
A rare form of MND involving the upper motor neurones only, causing mainly weakness in the lower limbs, although some people may experience clumsiness in the hands or speech problems.
Physiotherapy for Motor Neurone Disease
The neurophysiotherapists understand that there is no cure for MND and the impact that this has on a person and their family. The aim of physiotherapy is therefore to assist the patient to maximise their function and provide advice and support on preventing secondary complications and making them as active as possible.
Treatment can include:
• Muscle stretching and exercises that can be taught to the patient and the family/carers.
• Advice on mobility to keep function as long as possible. This may include the provision of aids and equipment.
• Working with other health or social care professionals.
• Respiratory exercises and treatment to prevent chest complications.