Motor Neurone Disease (MND)

Motor Neurone Disease is the name given to a group of terminal diseases in which the nerve cells (neurones) controlling the muscles that enable us to move, speak, breathe and swallow undergo degeneration and die.

Motor function is controlled by the upper motor neurones in the brain that descend to the spinal cord; these neurones activate lower motor neurones.  The lower motor neurones exit the spinal cord and directly activate muscles.  With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste.

A cure is yet to be found, there is no effective treatment and it can strike anyone at any time.  The average life expectancy of a person diagnosed with MND is 27 months. 

MND can be known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in many parts of the world, and also as Lou Gehrig's disease in the USA.

MND in Australia

  • Each day in Australia two people die from MND
  • Each day in Australia two people are diagnosed with MND
  • People with MND progressively lose the use of their limbs and ability to speak, swallow and breathe, whilst their mind and senses usually remain intact
  • Average life expectancy is 2.5 years
  • More than 2,000 people have MND in Australia of whom 60% are male and 40% are female
  • Mean time from onset to confirmation of diagnosis is 10 to 18 months
  • Prevalence of MND in 2015 was 8.7 per 100,000 people or 1 per 11,434 Australians
  • Approximately 58% of people with MND are under the age of 65
  • The total cost of MND in Australia was $2.37 billion in 2015. This equates to $1.1 million per person
  • For every person diagnosed with MND it is estimated that a further 14 members of their family and their friends will live with the effect of MND forever

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, over the last decade there has been an increase in the number of deaths from MND in Australia. The aging population and interventions that improve life expectancy in MND are likely to result in a steady increase in the number of people living with MND in Australia.

In 2013, 787 people with MND died compared with 592 people with MND who died in 2001. The cause of this increase is mostly unknown.

Information taken from

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