Assessing respiratory function

This information is for health and social care professionals. You may also want to see our information for people living with or affected by MND on:

Motor neurone disease (MND) is a progressive and terminal disease that attacks the motor neurones, or nerves, in the brain and spinal cord. Respiratory muscle weakness occurs eventually in everyone with MND and respiratory function significantly predicts both survival and quality of life.

Monitoring respiratory function will help the health professional and the person with MND to reach decisions about management in a timely way.

It is also important because:

  • effective management of respiratory function is likely to have a positive impact on quality of life for the person with MND
  • it may prevent an acute respiratory emergency, or inappropriate action being taken in the event of an emergency. If someone presents in hospital with rapidly decompensating ventilatory failure, intubation or a tracheostomy may be carried out.

Therefore, when monitoring someone with MND, it is important to:

  • ask about symptoms of respiratory involvement
  • look for signs of weakness in the trunk and respiratory muscles.

For further information and support contact our MND Connect helpline

mndconnect 0808 802 6262