Motor neuron disease (MND) can describe several degenerative diseases that attack the motor neurons in the brain. Motor neurons are the nerves that tell the muscles throughout the body what to do. In people with motor neuron diseases, these messages to the muscles are disrupted. With no signals or messages reaching them, the muscles begin to stiffen and weaken. This leads to the wasting away of those same muscles, which can lead to a range of physical difficulties and the need for breathing assistance.
Motor neuron disease is an uncommon condition and is almost never seen in people under the age of 40. Men in their 60s and 70s are at a slightly higher risk of developing the condition, but researchers are still working to learn more about the disease, and it is difficult to identify overarching risk factors. Also, even though the condition is not genetic, 5-10% of people with motor neuron disease have what doctors call "inherited MND," which occurs when mutations in the DNA, passed down from a parent, are responsible for the condition.
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