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Chapter: Diseases of The Brain and Nervous System(A Health Education Guide): Motor Neuron Disease

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Diagnosis and Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease

The disease can be diagnosed accurately with E.M.G. test. It is essential to get a confirmed diagnosis of this disease by a Neurologist, as the patient has very less active functional lifetime left after being afflicted by this disorder.

Diagnosis :

The disease can be diagnosed accurately with E.M.G. test. It is essential to get a confirmed diagnosis of this disease by a Neurologist, as the patient has very less active functional lifetime left after being afflicted by this disorder. Therefore, it is always better to systematically arrangefinancial, medical, and social requirements as soon as possible. Many a times, the symptoms similar to motor neuron disease are also caused by diseases like deficiency of Parathyroid Hormone, spinal cord injury (whiplash injury), effects of metals on the body (like lead), radiation, side effects of chemicals, myeloma as well as other types of cancers or AIDS. This category is called SecondaryMotor Neuron Disease.

 

Treatment :

1.        The patient and the relatives should be timely informed about the seriousness of the disease, so that the patient can make arrangements for the rest of his life.

2.        Muscles can be kept functional, as far as possible by physiotherapy, muscle training, walking exercise etc. Along with that the patient should make use of instruments like crutches and calipers, to ease the functions like walking and moving hands.

3.        This agonizing disease has no specific treatment. After a lot of research, a recently discovered drug called Riluzole (Rilutec) is being used. Usually it is given for 3 months and the expenses come to about 60 to 70 thousand Indian Rupees. But the disease can be slowed down only for about 3 to 6 months, which only prolongs the torture. The general experience is that it has no magical role in the treatment, although it can be used in appropriate cases.

4.        If swallowing of food, speech etc gets affected; proper training can help to a certain extent. If that fails, Ryles tube can be used for feeding. Better still is gastrostomyfeeding, in which a tunnel is made under the skin, anda tube is passed through the stomach to give the necessary nutrition.

5.        Necessary medical treatment should be given in case of emotional lability, depression, involuntary laughing and crying etc.

6.        Exercises of the respiratory muscles should be started right from the beginning. Eventually the life span of the patient can be prolonged a little, by helping in respiration with the ventilator machine. Nursing care, love of the relatives, affectionate treatment from the doctor etc. can provide support to the patient in his fight against this incurable and painful disease in his remaining life.

 

7.        There is an association of patients of this disease called “Motor Neuron Disease Association” which provides relevant information to the patients.

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