CityPress - - Sport -

Af­ter Van der Westhuizen was di­ag­nosed with mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease (MND) in July 2011, he was given an 80% chance of sur­viv­ing two to five years.

MND is any of sev­eral neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders that se­lec­tively af­fect mo­tor neu­rons, the cells that con­trol vol­un­tary mus­cles of the body. MNDs are neuro-de­gen­er­a­tive in na­ture and cause in­creas­ing dis­abil­ity and, even­tu­ally, death.

An Au­gust 2013 BBC Sport re­port il­lus­trated the progress of his dis­ease — by then, he was con­fined to a wheel­chair, and his speech had grown in­creas­ingly slurred.

In Jan­uary 2014, he re­turned to the US to par­tic­i­pate in clin­i­cal stud­ies with re­searchers at a hos­pi­tal in Bos­ton, Mas­sachusetts.

Van der Westhuizen cre­ated the J9 Foun­da­tion to help other suf­fer­ers with MND

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