What is Motor Neuron Disease?

Motor neuron disease (MND) is the name given to conditions that affect the motor nerves, or ‘neurons’, in the body.

The conditions are given different medical names depending on the area of the nervous system where symptoms arise.

Conditions that fall under the general name of motor neurone disease in the UK are:

  • ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s Disease in the USA)
  • PLS – primary lateral sclerosis
  • PMA – progressive muscular atrophy
  • SMA – spinal muscular atrophy (a childhood-onset form of MND)

All of these conditions are progressive, in that the condition of the nerves will deteriorate over time. This will affect the nerves’ ability to signal to the muscles, which results in paralysis of the muscles.

We still do not know why this happens. There is no cure for these conditions; however, there are a number of medical interventions that we can offer to help with symptoms.

In some cases the cause can be classified as “familial”, whereby other family members might have had this disease.

In up to 35% of cases, people with MND might have a mild cognitive impairment; this means that thinking and memory might be affected.

There are approximately 400 people living with MND in Scotland at any given time.

Useful links and downloads

MND Scotland

The MND Association

NHS Choices, motor neurone disease