Many people are losing their lives to motor neuron disease due to the repeated dramatic strain to the body and the damage on the nerve cells that are responsible for motor neuron disease. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is the most common type of Motor neuron disease and it is a broad term for the kinds of muscle weakness or muscle wasting that occurs in this disease where specialized motor neuron cells start to degenerate both in the brain and in the spinal cord.
There are four different kinds of motor neuron disease and it is based on the type of nerve cell that is affected as well as the part of the body where the symptoms first present but ultimately all four types lead eventually to muscle wasting or muscle weakness and that would affect your speech muscles, swallowing muscles, breathing muscles, as well as your arms, legs, and your trunk.
The life expectancy to the people who are diagnosed with motor neuron disease is two to five years from the date of diagnosis and that depends on the type of motor neuron disease that a person has been diagnosed with as well as the date of diagnosis. Some therapies would help to extend the quality and promote the quality of life such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, as well as medication. Medications have been found to have some effects on extending life expectancy in people with motor neuron disease.
What are the indicators of motor neuron disease?
Symptoms generally start quite subtly with some form of weakness so there might be a weakness in terms of your speech musculature, swallowing musculature, slurring of your words, difficulty swallowing, stumbling or falling, difficulty in breathing or unable to breathe, sudden changes in weight, exhaustiveness, and a weakening grip which makes it hard for you to hold things are considered as the most common symptoms associated with motor neuron disease.
What are the types of motor neuron disease?
As per medical professionals, motor neuron disease is classified into five types. It includes
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Primary lateral sclerosis
- Progressive bulbar palsy (PBP)
- Progressive muscular atrophy (PMA)
- Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)
Let’s discuss the above types in detail.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease
It affects the upper and lower motor neurons and it results in neurons in both brain and spinal cord start to degenerate. It will be difficult for you to move your arms, legs, and mouth. People also experience breathing problems when they are affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The life expectancy to the people who are diagnosed with this type is three to five years, but people can increase their life by up to ten years with the help of medications, and therapies. Research shows that fifty percent of the people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may suffer from problems related to language and memory.
Primary lateral sclerosis
It is not the most common type of motor neuron disease but this type can affect the neurons in the brain. A person’s quality of life will be reduced and it affects mostly to children when compared to older people.
Progressive bulbar palsy (PBP)
It involves the brain stem and people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis often have progressive bulbar palsy also. The following are the causes of PBP. It includes
- Frequent choking spells
- Unable to speak
- Difficulty eating
- Difficulty swallowing
Progressive muscular atrophy (PMA)
Progressive muscular atrophy can cause muscle weakness and following body parts are affected by this type of motor neuron disease. It includes
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)
Genetics plays a vital role in this type. If a mother or father was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy in the past, their children have an increased risk of getting diagnosed with SMA. The following body parts are affected by this type. It includes
All these five types will eventually lead to muscle weakness and it makes people difficult to talk, walk, and swallowing.
What are the causes of Motor neuron disease?
Many theories abound regarding the cause of motor neuron disease and researchers have kind of put it down to a perfect storm effector. So, their suggestion that there might be an environmental or chemical toxin component and an infective viral agent component, immune component, and repeated blows to the head are the causes of motor neuron disease. It has been observed that rugby players are more likely to develop motor neuron disease with that repeated body injury.
What are the risk factors of motor neuron disease?
Motor neuron disease can affect anyone and life expectancy depends on the type of motor neuron disease that a person has been diagnosed with. Many well-established risk factors are developing the condition. It includes
Let’s discuss the above risk factors in detail.
Motor neuron disease risk increases with age, and people who are between the ages of forty and mid sixty have an increased risk of getting diagnosed with this condition.
When compared to women, men are more prone to developing motor neuron disease.
If parents were diagnosed with motor neuron disease in the past, their children have an increased risk of getting diagnosed with this condition.
How is motor neuron disease diagnosed?
It is important to get an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. If your healthcare provider suspects that you have motor neuron disease, then he or she will refer you to a neurologist. Your neurologist will review your medical history and ask detailed information about the symptoms you are experiencing in the past few days and may recommend the following tests to confirm the diagnosis of this condition. These tests include
- Blood and urine tests
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) brain scan
- Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction study (NCS)
- Spinal tap or lumbar puncture
- Muscle biopsy
Let’s discuss the above tests in detail.
Blood and urine tests: By testing your blood your neurologist will rule out the other possible causes of your symptoms.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) brain scan: This scan is used to get a clear picture of your brain and spinal cord and reveal the other following conditions in your body such as
- Brain tumor
- Unusual brain structures
Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction study (NCS): Electromyography will reveal information about the electrical activity of your muscles whereas nerve conduction study tests the capability of nerves to send impulses to muscles in different parts of the body.
Spinal tap or lumbar puncture: Your neurologist may recommend this test to observe the changes in the cerebrospinal fluid and this test can rule out the other possible causes of your condition.
Muscle biopsy: This test is used to detect the muscle diseases in your body your physician may remove the portion of your muscle and sent to the laboratory for testing.
What are the treatment options available for motor neuron disease?
There is no cure for motor neuron disease and the main objective of any type of treatment is to ease the symptoms of the disease. The following are the treatment options that are used in the management of this condition. It includes
- Slowing disease progression
- Muscle cramps and stiffness
- Pain relief
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
Let’s discuss the above treatment options in detail:
Slowing disease progression
Food and Drug Administration have approved some medications to reduce the effects of the disease on your body. These medications include
- Radicava (Edaravone)
- Spin Raza
Radicava (Edaravone): Food and drug administration (FDA) approved this drug to treat Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Possible side effects include bruising, oxygen deficiency, pain in the head, eczema, and respiratory failure.
Spin Raza: FDA approved this drug to treat the Spinal muscular atrophy and the common side effects of this drug include lower respiratory infection, scoliosis, constipation, and congestion.
Zolgensma: This drug also approved by FDA to treat spinal muscular atrophy. This medication is for children who are less than two years old with SMA and not for older people. The following are the possible side effects of this drug. It includes
- Elevated liver enzymes
Muscle cramps and stiffness
Your physician may recommend baclofen medication to get you relief from muscle cramps, stiffness, and yawning.
If you are experiencing severe pain, your doctor may prescribe ibuprofen to help you manage the pain. This medication may not work if you are in the advanced stage of this disease.
People with motor neuron disease are unable to walk and this therapy can promote the quality of life by giving hope to the person with MND who can walk. This therapy can prevent pain and help your muscles function at their best.
The main objective of this therapy is to make you do your daily activities on your own. It includes
Your therapist will design your home based on your needs.
This therapy can make your speech more understandable to the audiences. Your speech therapist may teach you some advanced techniques to improve your communication.
Consult your doctor or a therapist immediately if you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above. Your doctor should evaluate you for other possible causes of your symptoms before treating Motor neuron disease. Together, you and your doctor can determine the best way to manage your symptoms. Some many advanced techniques and approaches will benefit the people with motor neuron disease.