Supporting Patients Affected by MND

Motor Neurone Disease (MND), is a rare condition that affects around 1 in 300 people. It is a well-known condition to the public because of the late Professor Stephen Hawking.

MND has various degenerative symptoms, and there is currently no cure. There are, however, plenty of treatments available that can help ease the symptoms for those affected. It’s important for all health professionals to understand MND so that they know how to support patients.

About Motor Neurone Disease

Motor Neurone Disease is a rare condition affecting the nerves and brain. Patients with MND will need a lot of support throughout their lives.

As many GPs will know, MND takes time to manifest, and will continue to worsen over time. Those affected by MND will require regular monitoring and support in terms of mobility and basic everyday tasks.

Currently, a person’s risk of developing MND is 1 in 300, and it affects around 5,000 people in the UK. Around one-third of sufferers die within the first year of receiving a diagnosis, while almost 80% of sufferers eventually experience difficulties communicating.

There are no known risk factors for MND. While a person may be more likely to develop MND if it’s in the family, it is not a hereditary disease.

Diagnosing patients

Patients are affected by MND in various ways. These are some of the most common signs and symptoms:

  • A weakness in the leg or ankle, causing a person to lose their balance or fall
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty swallowing food
  • Having a weak grip that means they drop things frequently or find it difficult to open bottles and jars.
  • Twitching and cramps in the muscles
  • Weight loss

These symptoms, of course, can be indicative of other conditions. There isn’t a single diagnostic test for MND, but GPs may be able to rule out other causes using blood tests before sending a patient on for a referral. A diagnosis can take a long time to achieve, but doctors and health workers who are familiar with the symptoms can help speed up the process.

Supporting patients affected by MND

There are many ways of supporting patients affected by MND. It’s a difficult condition to manage, but being able to spot the signs early will help the patient receive the right treatment from neurologists, physiotherapists and occupational health workers.

As MND is a life-altering condition, you may also recommend counselling services. Your patients should know that they can come to you if they need additional support or are struggling to manage their symptoms.

Raising awareness in your practice

You can help raise awareness of MND in your practice by making sure there is plenty of literature in receptions and waiting areas which alerts patients to the symptoms and tells them where to go for advice.

Ensuring all staff are knowledgable about MND and other serious conditions like bowel cancer can ensure your practice does an effective job of caring for its patients.

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