Motor neurons are responsible for many functions of one’s body, primarily movement. If they are somehow damaged, it can affect one’s life significantly. First of all, depending on the group of motor neurons, a patient may experience either hyperreflexia or hyporeflexia (Magnussen & Glass, 2017). The former signifies that upper motor neurons are impacted, while the latter implies that something is wrong with lower motor neurons (Magnussen & Glass, 2017). Then, the Latin prefixes show that hyper- in hyperreflexia means the excess of something, in this case, overly responsive reflexes. They might complicate one’s life with twitching, hypertension, and potentially a stroke (Chowdary & Gilbertson, 2018). On the other hand, hypo- in hyporeflexia implies insufficiency, which means delayed reflexes. It generally accompanies weakness in one’s limbs and tongue that may hinder one’s movements and speech, respectively (Garg et al., 2017). With time, such weakness may progress into disability and seriously change one’s life. Therefore, damage in motor neurons affects reflexes, which, in turn, cause certain symptoms and diseases that may make a person dependant on external support.
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The conditions that have been mentioned are inherently connected with muscles, for instance, weakness in the limbs and the tongue. Death of motor neurons affects respiratory, pelvic, intercostal (diaphragm), and other types of muscles, initially causing weakness and eventually leading to atrophy if untreated (McDonough et al., 2017). Once such muscles refuse to function properly, it leads to difficulties in breathing, urinating, and moving. Thus, it is essential to focus on restoring motor neurons to avoid such complications.
Among the illnesses that affect motor neurons are amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (AMS), progressive bulbar palsy (PBP), and primary lateral sclerosis (PLS). They affect different types of neurons, but their outcomes may intertwine. For instance, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis affects upper motor neurons and lower motor neurons, causing motor deficiency (Van Es et al., 2017). Patients with AMS might also lose appetite or have difficulties eating, which leads to malnutrition and lower quality of life (Van Es et al., 2017). The disease is linked with genetic factors and spreads among the older population (Van Es et al., 2017). On the other hand, primary lateral sclerosis affects only upper motor neurons (Statland et al., 2015). PLS is common among older patients and does not appear to be hereditary (Statland et al., 2015). It causes stiffness, poor balance, and shares some symptoms with AMS, for example, eating difficulties (Statland et al., 2015). However, both illnesses exclude each other, which may make patients’ lives less threatened.
Chowdary, H., & Gilbertson, L. (2018). Autonomic hyperreflexia. In S. K. W. Mankowitz (Ed.), Consults in obstetric anesthesiology (pp. 83-85). Springer.
Garg, N., Park, S. B., Vucic, S., Yiannikas, C., Spies, J., Howells, J., Huynh, W., Matamala, J. M., Krishnan, A. V., Pollard J. D., Cornblath D. R., Reilly M. M., Kiernan, M.S. (2017). Differentiating lower motor neuron syndromes. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 88(6), 474-483. Web.
Magnussen, M. J., & Glass, J. D. (2017). Natural history of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In N. Boulis, D. O’Connor, & A. Donsante (Eds.), Molecular and cellular therapies for motor neuron diseases (pp. 25-41). Academic Press.
McDonough, A., Urquia, L., & Boulis, N. (2017). An introduction to the natural history, genetic mapping, and clinical spectrum of spinal muscular atrophy. In N. Boulis, D. O’Connor, & A. Donsante (Eds.), Molecular and cellular therapies for motor neuron diseases (pp. 101-120). Academic Press.
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Statland, J. M., Barohn, R. J., & Dimachkie, M. M. (2015). Primary lateral sclerosis. Neurologic Clinics, 33(4), 749–760. Web.
Van Es, M. A., Hardiman, O., & Chio, A. (2017). Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The Lancet, 390(10107), 2084–2098. Web.