Motor neurone disease (MND) affects the nerves involved in controlling your body’s movements, known as motor neurons. In MND the motor neurons progressively deteriorate and eventually die, causing increasing muscle weakness and ultimately, paralysis. This can affect speech, movement, breathing, and even the simple act of swallowing.
While MND can’t be cured or reversed, at Valens Care we work with you to manage your condition, aiming to help you maintain as much independence and functional capacity as possible for as long as possible.
Here we discuss MND, how it may affect your body and how MND physiotherapy may help.
What is motor neurone disease?
The term motor neurone disease refers to a group of neurodegenerative disorders that affect nerve cells called motor neurons.
Your motor neurones are responsible for sending messages between your brain and your muscles so that you can make voluntary movements like walking, talking, swallowing, and breathing. As the motor neurones gradually die off, your muscles become weaker and progressively waste away.
For some, the condition results from an inherited genetic mutation. But for 90-95% of MND cases, the cause is unknown.
The symptoms and progression of MND can vary in speed and severity from person to person.
In the early stages of the disease, symptoms may be mild and the location of your early symptoms will depend on which of your motor neurones are affected first.
You may find weakness in your hands makes it difficult to write, your speech may be a little slurred due to weakness in your tongue, or decreasing control of your legs or feet might cause you to stumble occasionally.
Some common symptoms of MND include:
- Weakness in your hands and arms which can make it hard to grip or lift objects.
- Weakness in your legs and feet can make balancing and walking hard and increase your risk of falls.
- Weakness in your face and tongue which can make it harder to speak or swallow.
- Cramping, twitching or spasming in your muscles.
- Joint stiffness and loss of range of motion.
- Breathing difficulties.
- Behavioural changes.
Motor neurone disease and physiotherapy
Because most of your body’s functions rely on muscle activity, you may find that MND has hindered your ability to carry out your daily tasks independently. Motor neurone disease physiotherapy management involves movement, exercise, manual therapy, advice, and education to keep you active for as long as possible.
Our dedicated Valens Care physiotherapists work within your multidisciplinary team to provide care. We begin with a thorough assessment of your condition to identify how MND is affecting you. We consider your needs, goals and circumstances and tailor an individualised treatment program, aiming to help you manage your condition.
Your treatment plan will aim to:
- Support your muscle tone and maintain strength and flexibility for as long as possible.
- Prevent contractures.
- Support effective movement patterns.
- Reduce stiffness and increase your range of motion.
- Enhance balance and posture and manage falls risk.
- Build up your stamina and energy levels.
- Increase your independence and sense of well-being.
Another key role of motor neurone disease physiotherapy is respiratory care. MND may cause your breathing muscles to become weaker, meaning your body gets less oxygen because you can’t take in as much air with each breath. It can also become harder to breathe out the carbon dioxide your body produces.
There are several ways your physiotherapist might support your breathing:
- Teaching you effective coughing techniques to help you clear your airway more easily.
- Providing exercises to help you control your breathing.
- Help you implement energy-conserving techniques.
- Teaching you how your body position affects your breathing.
The Valens Care difference
At Valens Care, we understand that learning you have MND can be an emotionally challenging experience.
Please reach out to us, even in the early stages of the disease. Building a solid foundation of physical condition as well as a strong therapeutic relationship will become invaluable as your condition progresses.
Our NDIS-registered mobile physiotherapy service makes it easy for you to access the high-quality and consistent support you need.
To learn more about our MND physiotherapy services and how we could help you contact us today.
* All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Valens Care can consult with you regarding your individual health needs.
Healthdirect. (2019). Motor neurone disease (MND). www.healthdirect.gov.au/motor-neurone-disease-mnd
MND Australia. (2021). What is motor neurone disease (MND?). www.mndaustralia.org.au/mnd-connect/what-is-mnd/what-is-motor-neurone-disease-mnd
MND Australia (n.d). Physiotherapists: A Vital Part of an MND Multidisciplinary Care Team. www.mndaustralia.org.au/articles/physiotherapists-a-vital-part-of-an-mnd-multidisciplinary-care-team
Physiopedia. (2023). Motor Neurone Disease MND. www.physio-pedia.com/Motor_Neurone_Disease_MND