Motor neurons are everything! Right from taking long walks on the beach and eating your favourite foods to dancing in your friend’s wedding and speaking to your old schoolmates – motor neurons are responsible for our every movement. They send electrical output signals to your muscles and urge them to make coordinated movements.
Now when we depend on motor neurons for practically everything, how can we let a motor neuron disease stop us from living our lives? We shouldn’t!
In this article, we’ll take you through the various treatment options for Motor Neuron Diseases (MND). We will also introduce you to the best treatment for MND under Plexus’ regenerative rehabilitation programs.
What is MND?
MND is a group of neurodegenerative disorders that are caused by damage to the motor neurons of the body. The disorders are progressive and lead to the eventual deterioration of voluntary muscles.
MND causes a disruption in the normal functioning of motor neurons making it difficult for them to transmit messages from the brain to muscles. Lack of movement leads to muscle weakness and muscle loss. As the disease advances, it gets more and more difficult to walk, talk, swallow, and even breathe.
But to say that MND is the end of the road is severely undermining your determination to lead a full life. There are several treatment options for MND today that include Stem Cell Therapy, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy. While they may not essentially reverse the disease, they can definitely slow the rate of progression.
Symptoms of MND and progression of symptoms
MND symptoms vary from patient to patient. At the same time, they do not present themselves all at once. Some of the symptoms of MND are:
- Dysarthria (slurred speech)
- Foot Drop (caused by weak muscles in the ankle)
- Weakening of grip (deterioration in fine motor movements like holding objects, writing, etc.)
- Dragging of leg
- Cramps and twitching of muscles
Often these symptoms may take weeks or even months to actually make a visible difference to the patient’s quality of life. However, since MND is progressive, patients may find regular day-to-day activities challenging. Therefore, timely diagnosis and immediate treatment can definitely help patients manage their symptoms better.
Tests and diagnosis
Since MND’s symptoms are similar to those of other diseases, a diagnosis in the initial stages may be difficult. However, in order to rule out MND, the neurologist may ask for the following tests:
- Blood tests
- MRI of brain and spine
- Lumbar puncture to assess the spinal fluid
- Electromyography (EMG) to measure electrical activity of muscle in response to stimuli
Plexus rehabilitation for MND
Living with MND can take a physical and emotional toll on the patient. Lack of movement impacts our lives in ways we cannot fathom. From not being able to go to the cinemas to not taking a dip in the pool in hot summers – MND takes so much away!
But there is hope! Today, thanks to advances in medical science, the symptoms of MND and its rate of progression can be managed to a great extent. At Plexus, we offer the best treatment for MND through our tailored rehabilitation program. This is a unique regenerative rehabilitation program that offers a plethora of treatments and therapies to empower the patient and encourage the caregivers to not let an MND diagnosis get in the way of life.
Stem cell therapy
Stem cell therapy is essentially a type of regenerative treatment that uses the body’s natural healing mechanism to treat a number of conditions. Injected stem cells slow down the rate of neurodegeneration and also have the capacity to self-renew, regenerate cells, and repair damaged tissue. Stem cell therapy can also benefit those with autoimmune, inflammatory, neurological, and orthopaedic diseases.
Plexus Neuro and Stem Cell Research Centre is India’s first ISO-certified stem cell research centre. Founded by Dr. Na’eem Sadiq, India’s foremost neurologist and acclaimed stem cell specialist, Plexus uses only autologous stem cells that have been taken from the patient’s own body. The procedure is conducted under the guidance of Dr. Sadiq, by a team of highly-skilled and experienced stem cell specialists.
Occupational therapy (OT) empowers the patient to perform daily activities with much more ease by helping them manage their symptoms. OT helps restore strength, improve endurance and hand function, and manage fatigue. MND patients have seen remarkable improvements in their motor function as well as their ability to perform daily tasks without depending on a caregiver. At Plexus, our team of experienced and highly skilled occupational therapists will help you enhance functionality and regain independence.
Physiotherapy is immensely helpful for patients with neurological ailments, especially those with MND. One of the greatest benefits of physiotherapy is the improvement of posture and prevention of joint immobility. The inevitable muscle weakness and atrophy are also pushed further away because the patient has not lost complete mobility just yet. Armed with decades of experience, the physiotherapists at Plexus will draw up an exercise plan that is in keeping with the patient’s requirements, lifestyle, and aspirations.
Speech and language therapy
MND causes the muscles in the mouth, tongue and throat to weaken. This leads to swallowing troubles, also known as dysphagia. It is a common and advancing symptom of MND. A speech therapist can help maintain communication skills, and swallowing skills. Speech therapy also goes a long way in managing symptoms, and helping patients regain the ability to produce sounds and speech.
Muscle relaxants and medication
Besides therapies to improve functionality, the doctor may also recommend muscle relaxants to relieve muscle stiffness and even help reduce drooling that occurs due to dysphagia.
Plexus’ rehabilitation for MND also offers:
- Diets and nutrition plans
- Endurance training and fitness management
- Functional stretching for relief from muscle stiffness
- Hand function training
- Functional splinting
- Strengthening of muscles in the shoulder, neck, upper and lower limbs, and oral structures
- Activities for daily living training
- Energy conservation and work simplification training
- Counseling and caregiver support
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What are the 3 stages of MND?
Early, middle, and advanced are the three stages of MND. Each phase is characterised by the severity of symptoms.
The symptoms of the early stage may appear in the following areas:
- Arms and legs
- Respiratory system
Early stage symptoms are:
- slurred speech
- muscle pains, cramps, and twitches
- weakening grip, which makes it hard to pick up and hold things
- weakness in the arms and legs
- clumsiness and stumbling
- difficulty swallowing
- trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- inappropriate emotional responses, such as laughing or crying
- weight loss, as muscles lose their mass
Middle stage symptoms are:
- muscle shrinkage
- difficulty moving
- joint pain
- drooling, due to problems with swallowing
- uncontrollable yawning, which can lead to jaw pain
- changes in personality and emotional states
- difficulty breathing
In the advanced stages, the patient will need help to perform everyday activities like walking, eating, breathing, etc. However, with the right treatment, this advanced stage can be delayed to a great extent.
Are there any new treatments for MND?
Stem cell therapy is among the newest and most effective treatments for MND. Patients have shown remarkable improvement when it comes to carrying out their daily activities without depending on the support of caregivers. Plexus is India’s first ISO-certified stem cell research centre founded and helmed by Dr. Na’eem Sadiq. Under his guidance, patients with MND have found a new lease on life.
How long do MND patients live?
MND can drastically shorten a patient’s life. However, timely diagnosis and immediate treatment can increase their life expectancy.
Can you recover from MND?
MND is non-reversible. Having said that, it doesn’t have to be the end of the road for an individual. There is more to life even after an MND diagnosis.
What is the final stage of MND?
In the final stages of MND, the patient will need support to perform for almost all activities, including the basic everyday routines. In most cases, respiratory challenges become the final cause of death for the individual with MND.
Is MND painful?
No. Since motor neurons do not transmit or change pain signals, MND is not painful. However, as the disease advances, patients may experience pain due to muscle stiffness in joints, weakened muscles in limbs, etc.
Does MND run in families?
MND is not hereditary.
What is the main cause of MND?
While it is hard to point at one particular cause, scientists and medical researchers have indicated that MND may be caused by a combination of lifestyle, environmental, and genetic factors.
Can MND stop progressing?
MND is a progressive condition. Having said that, there are treatments that can slow down the rate of progression of the disease.