By Sarah Noske
With Fight MND- Big Freeze 6 just around the corner, non-footy followers may wonder what all the fuss is about and why so many people are donning a blue beanie. The Big Freeze may look a little different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions- there’ll be no big slide in the stands of the ‘G and they certainly won’t be packed with 90,000 plus roaring fans cheering on the poor souls who dare to plunge into the ice water. However, the cause stays the same, the fight to find a cure for Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is still as big a goal as ever.
MND, dubbed “the beast,” is a progressive, terminal neurological disease and to this date, there’s no cure. In Australia alone, two people are diagnosed with MND each day and a further two die from the condition. People with MND progressively lose the use of their limbs and ability to speak, swallow and breathe, while their mind and senses are usually not affected. In 2015, taken from the Deloitte Access Economics report Economic Analysis of MND in Australia, the cost of MND in Australia was $2.37 billion; this equates to $1.1 million per person of the 2000+ people already diagnosed. For every diagnosis, it is estimated that a further 14 people of their family and friends will live with the effects of MND forever.
While researchers are still working hard to find a cure, sufferers of MND are required to live out their lives and try to maintain function and quality of life for as long as the debilitating disease allows them. With no effective treatment to slow down the progression of the disease, one of the many goals for sufferers is to work towards improving their quality of life. As Exercise Physiologists, our greatest defence against this terrible disease is exercise.
Exercise prescription for every MND client is different and is dependent on their symptoms, progression of disease and physical fitness. Early stage treatment works towards maintaining and optimising mobility and function. Exercise prescription should be functional and goal oriented. Mid stage treatment is focused around continuing to maintain functional mobility, as well as managing pain and monitoring and addressing symptoms of respiratory compromise. During later stages of treatment, exercise prescription is all about maximising quality of life for the client.
So I suppose you are thinking, how can I help, where can I donate and where do I find myself one of those blue beanies? The Fight MND Big Freeze 6 beanies can be purchased online at www.fightmnd.org.au as well as all Coles and Bunnings stores Australia wide. Donations can also be made via the Fight MND website or if you’re looking to keep your dollars a little closer to home you can donate to MND SA via their website at www.mndsa.org.au