Neuromuscular Disorders

  • Neuromuscular diseases affect both nerves and muscles.
  • Motor neurons are the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that cause muscles to contract. They control voluntary muscle activity including speaking, walking, breathing, swallowing and general movement of the body.
  • Upper motor neurons in the brain connect to the lower motor neurons in the spinal cord. These in turn send connections through the nerves to the muscles.

When these motor neurons deteriorate, motor neuron disease occurs. The types of motor neuron diseases are separated by whether the following are affected:

  • The upper or lower motor neurons
  • The speech and swallowing muscles (bulbar)
  • The muscles in the rest of the body (spinal)

ALS is a disease in which both upper and lower neurons are affected.

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