What is MND?

Motor neurone disease (MND) affects the nerves (motor neurones) that communicate between the brain and the muscles that enable us to move, speak, swallow and breathe. In people with MND, the motor neurones gradually degenerate and die, causing the muscles to weaken and waste.

MND is a life-limiting disease, and although MND progresses differently for each person, the average life expectancy is 2-3 years.

There is currently no cure for MND, but symptoms can be managed to help improve quality-of-life and potentially extend life expectancy.

MND can affect adults of any age, but is more common in people over 50 years. The life-time risk of developing MND is 1 in 300.

Around 90% of MND cases are known as sporadic MND, which means that there are no known other cases in the family. The cause of sporadic MND is unknown. The remaining 10% of cases are familial MND and are caused by an inherited genetic mutation.

Every day, two Australians are diagnosed with MND and two die from the disease. There are currently over 2,100 Australians living with MND.



Motor function

Motor function is controlled by the upper motor neurones in the brain that descend to the spinal cord; these neurones activate lower motor neurones. The lower motor neurones exit the spinal cord and directly activate muscles. With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste.

Motor neurone disease (MND) can affect a person’s ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. 

What is ALS? 

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is the name given to the group of diseases in which the motor neurones undergo degeneration and die. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Progressive Muscular Atrophy (PMA), Progressive Bulbar Palsy (PBP) and Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS) are all subtypes of motor neurone disease. 

Although MND is the widely used generic term in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and some other countries, ALS is used more generically in the United States, Canada and other parts of the world.

MND is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease in the US after a famous baseball player who died of the disease. 

Find out more


Diagnosis and tests

Facts and figures about MND in Australia

Just Diagnosed?

Frequently Asked Questions
What remains unaffected by MND?

Find out more about MND

Jackie Chugg at Coral Bay Western Australia

Jackie was 25 years old when she was diagnosed with MND. She tells her story about living a positive life.

Amy Critchley and her mother Lorraine

A daughter describes how her world was turned upside down the day her Mum’s MND diagnosis was confirmed. 

Facts and figures about MND in Australia

Each day in Austraila two people are diagnosed with MND. Average life expectancy in 2.5 years. Read more MND facts


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