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Motor Neurone Disease

What is MND?

MND is the short term for motor neurone disease, which affects the nerves known as motor neurones. These nerves are found in the brain and spinal cord and they help tell your muscles what to do.

If you have MND, this means your movement will be affected and you are likely to get a wide range of symptoms. With motor neurone disease, known as MND, messages from the motor neurones gradually stop reaching the muscles. This leads the muscles to weaken, stiffen and waste, which can affect how you walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe. Some people also get changes to their thinking and behaviour, but the disease affects everyone differently. Not all symptoms will affect everyone, or in the same order. Symptoms also progress at varying speeds, which makes the course of the disease difficult to predict.

MND is life-shortening. Although the disease will progress, symptoms can be managed to help achieve the best possible quality of life. There is no known cause of MND and there is no cure or effective treatment, it’s always fatal.

MND is NOT a rare disease as often described and doesn’t only affect people aged 50+. There is a serious lack of awareness and more importantly funding. There is a lot of research going on and signs of promising treatments in the future

How many people are affected by MND?

MND affects up to 5,000 adults in the UK at any one time. There is a 1 in 300 risk of getting MND across a lifetime. It can affect adults of any age, but is more likely to affect people over 50. The average life expectancy is just 2-5 years from the onset of symptoms. A third of people diagnosed will die within a year, and half within 2 years.

More information

  • NHS: You can find out more about MND symptoms, disease progresssion, and support available on the NHS website.
  • MNDA: The Motor Neurone Disease Association is a membership organisation with over 10,000 members forming a powerful national and local network that provides information and support to MND sufferers and their families.
  • Research: Since 1999 Brain Research UK has been funding the Graeme Watts Laboratory at UCL Institute of Neurology. The Lab has a team of around 20 people working on MND and related diseases.