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Understanding Motor Neuron Disease
Sep 2018
Dr Sudhir Kumar
MD (Medicine), DM (Neurology) Senior Consultant Neurologist

Motor neuron disease (MND) is the commonest degenerative disease of the ‘motor’ nervous system, which leads to progressive weakness of all muscles of the body over time. It is also commonly known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

In the recent past, this disease has attracted a lot of attention as Stephen Hawking, a well-known scientist suffered from it and passed away after living with this disease for more than half a century. Not only did he survive the dreaded disease for such a long time, he continued to do high quality research in physics and led a good family life too (he had three children and three grandchildren).

In North America, the disease is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the famous American baseball first baseman, who played for the team New York Yankees in early 20th century. Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS, when he was at the peak of his career, forcing him to retire prematurely. He died a few years later of the same illness.

Who Are Prone To MND?
Motor Neuron Disease can occur at any age. However, it commonly affects people in their 60s and the incidence increases with increasing age. The disease affects men more commonly than women. MND is relatively uncommon and it affects two-three people per 1,00,000 population per year. MND occurs in all parts of the world.