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Motor Neuron Disease: Types, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

March 19th, 2018
Motor Neuron Disease: Types, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Motor neuron disease significantly put an effect on the nerves (motor neurons) performing the crucial function of giving instructions to the brain. When the person suffers from this disease the instructions from the nerves are not able to reach the muscles, leading them to weaken, stiffen and get damaged. The people affected by this disease may find it difficult to walk, talk, eat and breathe etc. This disease is life threatening with no cure.

Recently we lost a great scientist and the author Stephen Hawking. He was suffering from a type of motor neuron disorder Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This disease affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness, a loss of motor function, paralysis, breathing problems, and, eventually, death. The people who are suffering from this disorder have a life expectancy of 3-5 years. However Stephen truly a medical magic proved this wrong and lived for 55 years.

Types

Broadly there are five types of motor neuron diseases each of them may not describe the completely different disease rather, they are just the different form of the disorder. Below we have described the four types of diseases-

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)- It is the very common form of MND. It is characterized by the weakness and deterioration in the limbs, muscle stiffness and cramps. In this disease, the brain is unable to control voluntary actions. The life expectancy of the person suffering from this disease is usually two to five years from the onset of symptoms.
     
  • Bulbar onset MND or Progressive bulbar palsy (PBP)- This is a disease affecting the muscles of the face, throat, and tongue. The symptoms of this disease include speech and language disorder.  After the beginning of the symptoms, the life expectancy is between six months and three years.
     
  • Progressive muscular atrophy (PMA)- It is a very rare type of MND affecting the motoneurons. It usually begins from the weakness or clumsiness of the hands or legs. Life expectancy is usually more than five years.
     
  • Primary lateral sclerosis (PLS)-  It is a type of MNA causing weakness in the lower limbs. Some of the people suffering from it may experience clumsiness in the hands or speech problems. PLS progresses slowly and life expectancy can be 10-20 years.
     
  • Kennedy’s Disease - Caused by genetic mutation keened is a slowly progressive disorder. It is the very rare form of MND resulting in extreme weakness. It is currently incurable.

Symptoms

The symptoms of the MND vary from person to person and largely depend upon the type of disease he is suffering from. However, there are some common symptoms we have outlined below that are faced by the people suffering from MND –

  • Weakness in muscle
  • Cramps and spasms
  • Stiffness in joints
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Speech and language disorder
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Problems in saliva
  • Coughing weakness
  • Problems in breathing
  • Instability in emotions

Also read about: - Best Lung Cancer Treatment, Causes, Signs, and Symptoms

Causes

Usually, there are no specific reasons for the development of MND in a person. However it is said thought that this disorder is caused by a combination of environmental, lifestyle and subtle genetic factors.

Treatment

Currently, there is no cure for the motor neuron disease. However, we cannot say that nothing can be done for the people suffering from motor neuron diseases. There exist some treatments to help in minimizing the symptoms. Medications called riluzole or edaravone can be used to slow down the progression of the disease, often helping people live a few months longer.

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