In Memory of Rob Burrows

June 3, 2024

I am saddened to see the death announced this evening of Rob Burrows. ex Leeds Rhino player who had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2019, two years after he had retired from the sport.

For those of you who don’t know much about this life limiting condition, here is a brief overview: MND. also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in many regions, is a progressive neurological disorder that affects the motor neurons, which are the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. Here’s a detailed overview:

Key Characteristics of MND

  1. Progressive Muscle Weakness and Atrophy:
    • MND leads to the degeneration of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in muscle weakness and atrophy.
    • Early symptoms often include muscle cramps, stiffness, and fasciculations (twitching).
  2. Loss of Voluntary Muscle Control:
    • As the disease progresses, individuals lose the ability to control voluntary movements. This affects speaking, swallowing, breathing, and limb movements.
  3. Types of MND:
    • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): The most common form, ALS affects both upper and lower motor neurons.
    • Progressive Bulbar Palsy (PBP): Primarily affects the muscles involved in speaking, swallowing, and chewing.
    • Progressive Muscular Atrophy (PMA): Affects only the lower motor neurons, leading to weakness and atrophy in the limbs.
    • Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS): Affects only the upper motor neurons, causing stiffness and spasticity.
  4. Symptoms:
    • Muscle weakness and wasting in the limbs and trunk.
    • Difficulty speaking (dysarthria) and swallowing (dysphagia).
    • Respiratory difficulties due to weakening of the diaphragm and other breathing muscles.
  5. Causes and Risk Factors:
    • The exact cause of MND is not well understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
    • About 5-10% of cases are familial, meaning they are inherited. The rest are sporadic, with no clear genetic link.
    • Known genetic mutations associated with MND include those in the SOD1, C9orf72, TARDBP, and FUS genes.
  6. Diagnosis:
    • Diagnosis is primarily clinical, based on symptoms and neurological examination.
    • Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS) are used to assess the electrical activity of muscles and nerves.
    • MRI and other imaging tests may be used to rule out other conditions.
  7. Treatment and Management:
    • There is currently no cure for MND, and treatment focuses on managing symptoms and improving quality of life.
    • Medications: Riluzole and edaravone are two drugs that can modestly slow disease progression.
    • Therapies: Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy can help manage symptoms and maintain function.
    • Supportive Care: Nutritional support, respiratory care (including non-invasive ventilation), and palliative care are crucial aspects of management.
  8. Prognosis:
    • MND is typically progressive and ultimately fatal. The rate of progression varies widely among individuals.
    • The median survival time from onset to death is about 3 to 5 years, though some people live longer.

For more comprehensive information, you can visit reliable health resources such as:

RIP Rob; our thoughts go out to your family and friends.

In memory of Rob Burrows

26th September 1982 – 2nd June 2024



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