Dealing with Motor Neuron Disease
Motor neuron disease is also known as (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is considered life-shortening since it currently has no known cure. Nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord stop working effectively. Motor neurons control activities such as walking, speaking, swallowing, breathing and gripping. Symptoms will include weakness, stiffness, slurred speech and even visible muscle wasting. The disease is progressive. Excellent quality of life can be maintained through the management of symptoms.
Diagnosis is difficult and relies on the opinion of a neurologist. Other tests may be run to rule out conditions that may also exhibit similar symptoms. The cause may be attributed to genetic factors. Other triggers may be necessary for the disease to occur.
The first step in dealing with this disease is managing symptoms. Nutritionists will advise you on correct diet and fluid intake. With difficulty in swallowing, tube feeding may be considered. Breathing problems may occur in later stages of the disease. Supported breathing may be recommended. Exercise is essential, but it cannot reverse muscle wasting. A physiotherapist will decide on an appropriate exercise program to assist flexibility and range of movements in the joints. The weakening of the bulbar muscles may lead to difficulty in speech and excessive saliva in the mouth leading to drooling. A speech and language therapist may be able to assist.A suction machine may be used to clear out the mouth. There are also equipment and aids that can help in routine activities which could make life easier for you and those close to you, e.g., walking aids. Medication may also be prescribed for pain by your doctor.
Being diagnosed with MND can have a negative emotional impact on you. Share your feelings with family and loved ones. Have a trusted person go on hospital visits with you so they can also acquire information on the disease. This will enable them to assist in an informed way. Seek out counseling and have a strong support system.
Palliative and hospice care are not only meant for people who are closer to their death. It is much more concerned with improving the quality of life from diagnosis onwards. Here you will receive emotional support and symptom management.