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From Cyberlaw: Difficult Issues Winter 2010
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There is no specific test for motor neuron disease. It is often difficult to detect in the early stages, and diagnosis relies on a patient's medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. Your doctor will likely recommend a diagnosis by a neurologist, who is a specialist in diseases of the nervous system. Read on to learn more about this condition and its symptoms. And don't forget to read the information below!

    1. What are the symptoms of MND?

The symptoms of motor neuron disease include muscle spasms, exaggerated reflexes, and a gradual wasting of speech, swallowing, and chewing muscles. In many cases, a patient with motor neuron disease will eventually need full-time nursing care and a mechanical ventilator. While this treatment can help a patient stay alive longer, it will not change the course of the disease. To learn more about the disease and how to cope, contact the Motor Neurone Association of New Zealand.

    1. How is MND diagnosed?

Patients with motor neuron disease often draw up an advance decision, also called an advanced directive. It allows them to express their preferences about medical treatments before they develop the symptoms. They should also consider using riluzole, the only medication that has a survival benefit in people with motor neuron disease. This drug works by reducing the sensitivity of the nerve transmitter glutammate. Although this treatment can prolong a person's life, it won't change the course of the disease.

    1. What are the Treatment Options for MND?

In the early stages, motor neuron disease affects the lower part of the nervous system. As a result, patients with this disease will lose the ability to move their arms and legs and may experience fasciculation, muscle weakness, and decreased reflexes. The symptoms of motor neuron disease vary, and it's important to get a diagnosis right away. It's essential to have the right support and to speak to your neurologist about stem cell treatment options for MND symptoms.

When your condition progresses, it can become impossible for you to walk. Your muscles will deteriorate, and you'll need a feeding tube or a face mask to breathe. Most people with this disease will need full-time nursing care. In addition to treatment, you'll likely need to be on a ventilator or sleep on a bed. This can prolong life and improve quality of life, but won't change the course of the disease.

The symptomatic stage of motor neuron disease is progressive, and most patients will require nursing care until they're completely paralyzed. In the end, most people with motor neuron disease will need a mechanical ventilator to breathe. While these devices can prolong a person's life, they will not change the course of the disease. Fortunately, there are support groups for those affected by motor neuron disease. They offer information and advocacy for those with the disease.

    1. MND Resources and support

MND disease is often progressive, and the patient will need 24-hour care. It can be life-threatening, as breathing through a face mask or feeding tube will make it impossible for the person to move. But despite its challenging course, the disease doesn't have a cure. There are ways to cope with it. But you can't live with motor neuron disease. If you're diagnosed with the condition, don't wait to receive medical attention.

Symptoms of motor neuron disease can occur at any age. It affects the motor neurons in the upper brain, the spinal cord, and the brain stem. Symptoms can include muscle spasms, a progressive wasting of muscles, and the ability to swallow. In severe cases, the person may be unable to speak. The condition can be fatal, and caregivers should seek support from a qualified team.