Early symptoms of motor neurone disease are often mild. They may include:
- stumbling due to weakness of the leg muscles
- difficulty holding objects due to weakness of the hand muscles
- slurring of speech or swallowing difficulties due to weakness of the tongue and throat muscles
- cramps and muscle twitching (fasciculation).
For most people with motor neurone disease, the intellect and memory are not affected, nor are the senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.
Fronto-temporal cognitive change (a type of dementia) has been associated with motor neurone disease and it is thought that one in five people with motor neurone disease may experience these changes. Neuro-psychological studies also suggest that approximately one in three people with motor neurone disease may have very mild changes in cognitive skills and processes.
The effects of motor neurone disease - initial symptoms, rate and pattern of progression, and survival time after diagnosis vary significantly from person to person.