What is MND?

To understand a little more about how MND (Motor Neurone Disease) effects sufferers,
watch this Tim Minchin video and please donate here so we can find a cure for this awful disease.

Motor neurone disease (MND) is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells (neurones) controlling the muscles that enable us to move, speak, breathe and swallow undergo degeneration and die.

Motor function is controlled by the upper motor neurones in the brain that descend to the spinal cord; these neurones activate lower motor neurones.  The lower motor neurones exit the spinal cord and directly activate muscles.  With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste.

MND can affect a person’s ability to:

  • walk
  • speak
  • swallow
  • and breathe.

The patterns of weakness vary from person to person.

Motor Neurone Disease is fatal, it paralyses the body leaving the mind intact in a majority of cases.

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in many parts of the world, and also as Lou Gehrig’s disease in the USA. Motor Neurone Disease (MND) can be difficult to diagnose because the initial symptoms can be similar to many other conditions.

There is:

  • no known cause
  • no cure
  • no remission
  • no treatment.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms and the rate of progression of motor neurone disease (MND) vary significantly from person-to-person. Early symptoms may be mild and may include:

  • Stumbling due to weakness of the leg muscles
  • Difficulty holding objects caused by weakness of the hand muscles
  • Slurring of speech or swallowing difficulties due to weakness of the tongue and throat muscles
  • Cramps and muscle twitching.

As the disease progresses symptoms may include:

  • Breathing difficulties from decreased lung capacity caused by muscle weakness
  • Fatigue caused by muscle exhaustion, metabolic changes, weight loss and reduced food intake, decreased lung capacity
  • Insomnia caused by discomfort, pain from stiff joints and muscles, excessive saliva, dry mouth or breathing problems
  • Mild changes in cognitive skills and processes and/or behavioural change
  • Fronto-temporal cognitive changes (a type of dementia), which is prominent in 5-10% of MND cases
  • Excessive laughing or crying due to damage to the upper motor neurones
  • Some pain or discomfort.

FACT   MND is a rapidly progressive, terminal neurological disease.

FACT MND can strike anyone.

FACT   There is no known cure and no effective treatment for MND – yet.

FACT   Each day in Australia – 2 people die from MND.

FACT   Each day in Australia – 2 people are diagnosed with MND.

FACT   People with MND progressively lose the use of their limbs and ability to speak, swallow and breathe, whilst their mind
and senses usually remain intact.

FACT   Average life expectancy is 2.5 years.

FACT   An estimated 2,000 people have MND in Australia and thousands more families and carers live daily with its effects.


Sources: MNDAWA Inc. http://www.mndawa.asn.au/Content/facts
MND Australia https://www.mndaust.asn.au/Get-informed/What-is-MND