People who receive a diagnosis of any serious illness, and those close to them, are very likely to have feelings of shock, anger and despair. This is especially true when people who are fit, well and active, develop very early signs of motor neurone disease (MND).
The shock experienced when hearing the diagnosis frequently means that people do not remember very much of what their neurologist has explained to them. The questions they most frequently ask are:
What are the symptoms?
Early symptoms are mild, and include stumbling due to weakness of the leg muscles, difficulty holding objects due to weakness of the hand muscles, slurring of speech or swallowing difficulties due to weakness of the tongue and throat muscles. In some instances people experience changes in their cognition and behaviour.
The effects of MND - initial symptoms, rate and pattern of progression, and survival time after diagnosis - vary significantly from person to person.
How is MND diagnosed?
Many other conditions can mimic motor neurone disease early in the disease. Diagnosis requires an expert neurological opinion and often a series of detailed investigations. Diagnosis may take some time to be established, although diagnosis may be confirmed rapidly by a neurologist.
The diagnosis can be assisted through a range of tests, including some which eliminate other conditions. Often an Electromyograph (EMG) is used, in which a needle is inserted into various muscles to measure their electrical activity. This can assist with both diagnosis and prognosis.
What remains unaffected?
In most instances the intellect and memory are not affected, nor are the senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. The bowels and bladder are not affected by the disease, although diet and exercise should be carefully monitored. In the PLS (Primary Lateral Sclerosis) form of MND some people experience urinary urgency.
What can be done?
Support people include family, friends, general practitioners, neurologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech pathologists, psychologists, dietitians, home care nurses, social workers, palliative care workers, community care services and MND Associations in each state and territory.
Most MND Associations employ professional staff. They work with people living with MND and their carers. They provide information about resources, equipment and support based on a wide understanding of the issues associated with each stage of the disease. Find out about the range of MND Support Services available from MND Victoria.
All the above information can be downloaded in the form of a leaflet, click on MND - Some Facts. MND-Some Facts provides basic information about MND in the form of frequently asked questions.
The leaflet is also available for download in
- al-'Arabiyyah (PDF, 225kb)
- Chinese (PDF, 77kb)
- Croatian (PDF, 29kb)
- Greek (PDF, 52kb)
- Hindi (PDF, 27kb)
- Italian (PDF, 11kb)
- Korean (PDF, 225kb)
- Polish (PDF, 43kb)
- Serbian (PDF, 346)
- Spanish (PDF, 10kb)
- Thai (PDF, 329kb)
- Turkish (PDF, 30kb)
- Vietnamese (PDF, 184kb)
Where can I find further information?
You can read more information on MND by downloading the brochure MND - More Facts - it provides more detail using a series of questions and answers, offering further depth and breadth to the issues raised in MND -Some Facts. In addition, it responds to a number of other questions. You can also read our General MND Information Kit.