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Motor Neuron Disease

Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is a serious form of progressive neurodegeneration. In the case of motor neuron disease, motor neurons – types of nerve cells are affected that control voluntary muscle activity including speaking, walking, breathing, swallowing and general movement of the body.

Symptoms Of Motor Neuron Disease

Musculoskeletal difficulties in Motor Neuron Disease:
Motor Neuron Disease can cause wasting and weakening of muscles in the hands and stiffening of muscles in the legs.

Swallowing Difficulties in Motor Neuron Disease:
Swallowing difficulties can occur in MND which can vary from mild to severe. At times food or liquids that you eat may be inhaled into the windpipe instead of going down the oesophagus and into the stomach. This causes coughing or choking when eating and sometimes a feeling that food is lodged in your throat. The Speech and Language Therapist will do a detailed assessment of the swallow to determine where and how the severe the swallowing difficulty is.

Speech Problems in Motor Neuron Disease:

  • Slurred, imprecise or slower speech

  • Low volume or weak voice due to respiration problems

  • Difficulty with resonance and pitch control

  • The appearance of speaking through the nose

  • Abnormally long pauses between words or syllables of words – this is called ‘scanned speech’.

  • Dysarthia, in which the capability to understand, remember words and construct sentences is not lost but the ability to speak clearly becomes affected

  • Aphasia, in which there is a lack of understanding of what is being said and an inability to recall the vocabulary and grammar necessary to build a sentence and the annoyance of losing a word mid-sentence.

Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease

Speech and Language Therapy
The Speech and Language Therapist will assess and diagnose your Speech and/or swallowing difficulties associated with Motor Neuron Disease. The role of the Speech and Language Therapist is to help maintain communication and swallowing skills for as long as possible, manage symptoms and adopt compensatory strategies for loss of function. Treatment will be individually tailored to each client.

Our Physiotherapists provide treatment for people with Motor Neuron Disease to help slow down the progression of the disease so that they can remain independent for longer. Our Physios will show the patient a series of exercises that aim to maintain flexibility in the muscles and joints affected by motor neuron disease as well as improving the strength in the muscles not affected by the disease. Some patients with MND experience breathing difficulties and our Physios can provide treatment to help clear chests and maintain lung capacity which should make breathing easier.

Our Expertise

Our Speech and Language Therapists and Physiotherapists work with Motor Neuron Disease patients to identify the associated difficulties they are experiencing in order to provide them with the most effective form of treatment to manage these difficulties.  The aim of treatment is to help the individual to maintain skills in order to remain independent for as long as possible and to adopt compensatory strategies to manage the symptoms.

All of Spectrum Health’s Adult Speech and Language therapists and Physiotherapists are qualified from University with a B.Sc. or M.sc (Hons) in the relevant field and have ample experience working with adults who have Motor Neuron Disease.