Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is the name of a group of diseases that cause the death of the nerve cells (neurones) that control the muscles that enable us to move, speak, swallow and breathe. With no nerves to activate them, these muscles gradually weaken and waste away. This causes progressive loss of mobility in the limbs, and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing. The progression varies significantly from person to person. The most common type of MND is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. In some countries, including North America, MND is called ALS.
Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is the name given to a group of closely related disorders which affect the motor neurones. Motor neurones are nerve cells which control the voluntary movement of muscles.
Upper motor neurones run from the brain to the brainstem or spinal cord to connect with lower motor neurones. Lower motor neurones then travel out to connect with the muscles for swallowing, chewing, tongue movement, facial expression, breathing, coughing and limb movement.
Degeneration of the motor neurones result in progressive muscle wasting and weakness because the nerve supply to the muscles is impaired.
For more information, please download a PDF of our booklet, MND: Some Facts. If you or someone you care for has MND, you can request a print version of this booklet from your support team member.
For up-to-date information about what we currently know about the causes of MND, please see What Causes MND?
For current information about research towards a cure for MND, please see our Research Resources.