Northern Ireland news

Life-limiting condition for which there is no cure

Motor neurone disease can affect a person's mobility along with their speech, how they eat and drink and their breathing

MOTOR neurone disease (MND) is a life-limiting condition that affects the brain and nerves.

It is difficult to diagnose and causes weakness that gets worse over time. There is no currently no cure.

It affects people in their 60s and 70s, but it can affect adults of all ages.

It's caused by a problem with cells in the brain and nerves called motor neurones. These cells gradually stop working over time. It's not known why this happens.

With MND, messages from the motor neurones gradually stop reaching the muscles.

This leads the muscles to weaken, stiffen and waste. MND can affect how you walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe. Some people also experience changes to their thinking and behaviour. However, MND affects everyone differently.

Symptoms happen gradually and may not be obvious at first.

Early symptoms can include weakness in your ankle or leg, muscle cramps and twitches, slurred speech and weight loss.

Having a close relative with motor neurone disease, or a related condition called frontotemporal dementia, can sometimes mean you're more likely to get it.

But it does not run in families in most cases.

There are treatments which help reduce the impact it has on a person's daily life. Some people live with the condition for many years or even decades.

MND can significantly shorten life expectancy and, unfortunately, eventually leads to death.

It is estimated up to 5,000 people are living with MND in the UK at any one time. There is a 1 in 300 risk of being diagnosed with the disease.

In Northern Ireland, between 100 and 120 people have the disease at any one time.

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