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My name is Anne Glynn, I'm a clinical specialist physiotherapist and clinical lead for the Neuro-Rehabilitation Team, which is an outpatient and community rehab team based at Colchester General Hospital. Motor neurone disease is a progressive and ultimately fatal disease. It's a disease that causes degeneration of the motor neurones, and the motor neurones are the nerves that supply our muscles to enable us to move. The muscles of the arms, the legs, the neck. And as they weaken, then the muscles can waste and the patient can be unable to move. Motor neurone disease can affect people as young as 18, however, the majority are diagnosed between the age of 50 and 70. In the population for every 100,000 people, about seven people are living with motor neurone disease. For a minority of these people there is a genetic reason found, a genetic mutation. This can be for about 5% to 10%, but for the majority the cause is unknown.

Current thinking is that it's a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. You cannot catch motor neurone disease. The first symptoms some patients may present with can be some muscle weakness, such as a foot drop that may cause them to fall, or possibly some hand weakness that makes fine motor activities such as doing buttons and zips difficult. Others may present with speech and swallowing problems, so their speech may become slurred and they may find they're coughing and choking on certain food or drinks - and they may present with weight loss as well. A small minority do present with breathing problems and they can present with shortness of breath, difficulty lying flat. So in some people, their thinking, their cognition and behaviour can be affected and up to about half the people  [with motor neurone disease] may have mild impairments, but maybe up to 20% have more significant problems and this is termed ‘frontotemporal dementia’.