Ataxia : Causes - Symptoms- Diagnosis -Treatment


What is ataxia?

Ataxia is a term used to describe a group of neurological conditions. There are several types of ataxia, including ataxia telangiectasia (AT), episodic ataxia, Friedreich's ataxia, multiple system atrophy (MSA), and spinocerebellar ataxia. This is when the part of the brain called the cerebellum is not working correctly. Ataxia is caused by damage to the cerebellum. There is no cure, but the symptoms can be treated with medication.

Ataxia is a term for a group of neurological diseases that affect movement and coordination. People with ataxia often have trouble with balance, swallowing, and speech. Ataxia is usually caused by damage to a part of the brain. The cerebellum coordinates movement.

What is ataxia?

Ataxia can develop at any age and typically gets worse over time. It is a rare condition affecting about 15,000 people in the U.S.

  1. Brain

  2. Cerebral hemispheres

  3. Diencephalon or interbrain

  4. Thalamus

  5. Hypothalamus

  6. Midbrain

  7. Cerebellum

Medical terms

  • Ataxia is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects balance, coordination, and speech. The condition is caused by damage to the cerebellum, a part of the brain responsible for controlling the body’s movements. Symptoms vary depending on the type of ataxia and range from slight difficulties with balance to complete loss of muscle control. Ataxia can be caused by a number of different factors, including genetics, head trauma, stroke, and certain medications.

  • Ataxia is a neurological disorder that is characterized by an impaired ability to coordinate voluntary movements. It can affect any part of the body, including the arms, legs, or even the trunk and head. People with ataxia may have difficulty walking, chorea or tremor, and may struggle with tasks like writing, grasping objects, and speaking. In severe cases, the person may experience muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, or even paralysis.

  • Ataxia describes an absence of muscle management or coordination of voluntary movements, like walking or studying objects. an indication of AN underlying condition, ataxy will have an effect on varied movements and make difficulties with speech, eye movement and swallowing.

  • Persistent ataxy typically results from injury to a part of your brain that controls muscle coordination (cerebellum). several conditions will cause ataxy, as well as alcohol misuse, sure medication, stroke, tumor, spastic paralysis, brain degeneration and MS. Transmissible defective genes can also cause the condition.

  • Treatment for ataxy depends on the cause. adaptational devices, like walkers or canes, may assist you maintain your independence. physiatrics, physiotherapy, therapy and regular cardiopulmonary exercise conjointly may facilitate.

What are the different types of ataxia?

There are many different types of ataxia. The symptoms and cause determine the classification. Knowing the type can help doctors better understand the condition and develop a treatment plan.

  • Ataxia telangiectasia (AT):  AT is an inherited condition that typically occurs in babies or young children. One common symptom is the appearance of enlarged (dilated) blood vessels called telangiectasias in the eyes and on the skin of the face. Children with AT also may have AT can cause symptoms that include difficulty walking, coordination problems, looking from side to side and trouble speaking. People with AT are more likely to get other illnesses, including infections and cancers.

  • Episodic ataxia:  People with episodic ataxia have recurrent problems with movement and balance. These episodes can happen multiple times a day or just once or twice a year. Episodic ataxia can develop for any reason, including stress medications, alcohol abuse, and physical exertion. There are seven types of episodic ataxia. Episodic ataxia is a condition that causes symptoms that vary from individual to individual, including dizziness, headache, blurry vision, and nausea and vomiting.

  • Friedreich’s ataxia:  People with Friedreich’s ataxia often experience stiff muscles and gradually lose strength and sensation in their arms and legs. They may also have a heart condition that weakens the heart muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). Friedreich’s ataxia is the most common type of genetic ataxia. It typically develops between the ages of 5 and 15.

  • Multiple system atrophy (MSA):  MSA is a condition that affects movement and the part of your nervous system that controls involuntary body functions (the autonomic nervous system). Symptoms of MSA may include difficulty with blood pressure and urinary control. When you stand up quickly, your blood pressure drops, which can lead to problems such as trouble urinating and erectile dysfunction in men. MSA typically develops in adults aged 30 and older. The average age of onset is 54 years old.

  • Spinocerebellar ataxia: Spinocerebellar ataxia is a type of genetic ataxia that is distinguished by various features, other than the presence of ataxia. People with this condition often develop movement and balance problems. Some types of ataxia can cause weakness, difficulty with movement, and loss of sensation. Symptoms of spinocerebellar ataxia can develop at any age, but it often progresses more slowly than other types of ataxia.

Symptoms Ataxia

Ataxia can develop over time or come on suddenly. A sign of a number of neurological disorders, ataxia can cause:

  • Poor coordination

  • Unsteady walk and a tendency to stumble

  • Difficulty with fine motor tasks, such as eating, writing or buttoning a shirt

  • Change in speech

  • Involuntary back-and-forth eye movements (nystagmus)

  • Difficulty swallowing

When to see a doctor

If you aren't aware of having a condition that causes ataxia, such as multiple sclerosis, see your doctor as soon as possible if you:

  • Lose balance

  • Lose muscle coordination in a hand, arm or leg

  • Have difficulty walking

  • Slur your speech

  • Have difficulty swallowing

Causes Ataxia

Damage, degeneration or loss of nerve cells within a part of your brain that controls muscle coordination (cerebellum), leads to neurological disease. Your neural structure includes 2 parts of sunburst tissue set at the bottom of your brain close to your neural structure. This space of the brain helps with balance also as eye movements, swallowing and speech.

Diseases that injure the funiculus and peripheral nerves that connect your neural structure to your muscles can also cause neurological disease. neurological disease causes include:

  • Head trauma. Damage to your brain or spinal cord from a blow to your head, such as might occur in a car accident, can cause acute cerebellar ataxia, which comes on suddenly.

  • Stroke. Either a blockage or injury within the brain will cause nervous disorder. Once the blood provided to a district of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of gas and nutrients, brain cells die. 

  • Cerebral palsy. This is a general term for a bunch of disorders caused by harm to a child's brain throughout early development — before, throughout or shortly after birth — that affects the child's ability to coordinate body movements .

  • Autoimmune diseases. Multiple pathology, pathology, disorder and different response conditions will cause dyssynergia.
    Infections. Dyssynergia is often associated with uncommon complications of pox and different microorganism infections like HIV and Lyme arthritis. it'd seem within the healing stages of the infection and last for days or weeks. Normally, the dyssynergia resolves over time. 

  • Paraneoplastic syndromes. These squares measure rare, chronic disorders triggered by your immune system's response to a cancerous tumor (neoplasm), most typically from respiratory organ, ovarian, breast or liquid body substance cancer. ataxy will seem months or years before the cancer is diagnosed. 

  • Abnormalities in the brain. An infected area (abscess) in the brain may cause ataxia. A growth on the brain, cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign), can damage the cerebellum.

  • Toxic reaction. Ataxia may be a potential aspect impact of bound medications, particularly barbiturates, like phenobarbital; sedatives, like benzodiazepines; anticonvulsant medication, like phenytoin; and a few forms of therapy. sustenance B-6 toxicity conjointly might cause neurological disease. These causes are vital to spot as a result of the results are usually reversible.
    Also, some medications you're taking will cause issues as you age, thus you would possibly have to cut back your dose or discontinue the medication.Alcohol and drug intoxication; serious metal poisoning, like from lead or mercury; and solvent poisoning, like from paint diluent, can also cause neurological disease. 

  • Vitamin E, vitamin B-12 or thiamine deficiency. Not getting enough of these nutrients, because of the inability to absorb enough, alcohol misuse or other reasons, can lead to ataxia.

  • Thyroid problems. Hypothyroidism and hypoparathyroidism can cause ataxia.

  • COVID-19 infection. This infection might cause dyssynergia, most typically in terribly severe cases.
    For some adults, the World Health Organization develops irregular dyssynergia, but no specific cause is often found. irregular dyssynergia will take a variety of forms, together with multiple system atrophy, a progressive, disorder. 

Hereditary ataxias

Some varieties of motor ataxia|nervous disorder|neurological disorder|neurological disease} and a few conditions that cause ataxia are hereditary. If you have got one in all these conditions, you were born with a defect in an exceedingly sure cistron that produces abnormal proteins.

The abnormal proteins hamper the operation of nerve cells, primarily in your neural structure and neural structure, and cause them to degenerate. because the malady progresses, coordination issues worsen.

You can inherit a genetic ataxy from either a factor from one parent (autosomal dominant disorder) or a factor from every parent (autosomal recessive disorder). Within the latter case, it's attainable that neither parent has the disorder (silent mutation), therefore there may well be no obvious case history.

Different cistron defects cause differing types of ataxy, most of which are progressive. every sort causes poor coordination, however every has specific signs and symptoms.

Autosomal dominant ataxias

These include:

  • Spinocerebellar ataxias. Researchers have identified more than 40 autosomal dominant ataxia genes, and the number continues to grow. Cerebellar ataxia and cerebellar degeneration are common to all types, but other signs and symptoms, as well as age of onset, differ depending on the specific gene mutation.

  • Episodic ataxia (EA). There are eight recognized styles of nervous disorder that are episodic instead of progressive — EA1 through EA7, and late-onset episodic nervous disorder. EA1 and EA2 are the most common. EA1 involves transient atactic episodes which will last seconds or minutes. The episodes are triggered by stress, being surprised or abrupt movement, and sometimes are related to muscle twitch.
    EA2 involves longer episodes, typically lasting from half-hour to 6 hours, that are also triggered by stress. you would possibly have symptoms (vertigo), fatigue and muscle weakness throughout your episodes. In some cases, symptoms resolve in later life.Episodic nervous disorder does not shorten lifetime, and symptoms may answer medication. 

Autosomal recessive ataxias

These include:

  • Friedreich's ataxia. This common hereditary nervous disorder involves injury to your neural structure, medulla spinalis and peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves carry signals from your brain and medulla spinalis to your muscles. In most cases, signs and symptoms seem well before age twenty five.
    The rate of unwellness progression varies. The primary indication usually is problem walking (gait ataxia). The condition generally progresses to the arms and trunk. Muscles weaken and waste away over time, inflicting deformities, significantly in your feet, lower legs and hands.Other signs and symptoms that may develop because the unwellness progresses embrace slow, thick speech (dysarthria); fatigue; speedy, involuntary eye movements (nystagmus); abnormal condition (scoliosis); hearing loss; and cardiomyopathy, as well as heart enlargement (cardiomyopathy) and failure. Early treatment of heart issues will improve quality of life and survival. 

  • Ataxia-telangiectasia. This rare, progressive childhood sickness causes degeneration within the brain and alternative body systems. The sickness additionally causes system breakdown (immunodeficiency disease), that will increase conditions to alternative diseases, together with infections and tumors. It affects varied organs.
    Telangiectasia is the formation of small red "spider" veins that may seem within the corners of your child's eyes or on the ears and cheeks. Delayed motor ability development, poor balance and thick speech area unit generally the primary indications of the sickness. perennial sinus and metabolism infections are a unit common.Children with ataxia-telangiectasia are at high risk of developing cancer, significantly cancer of the blood or cancer. The general public with the sickness would like a chair by their teens and die before age thirty, sometimes of cancer or respiratory organ (pulmonary) sickness. 

  • Congenital cerebellar ataxia. This type of ataxia results from damage to the cerebellum that's present at birth.

  • Wilson's disease. People with this condition accumulate copper in their brains, livers and alternative organs, which might cause medicine issues, together with neurological disorder. Early identification of this disorder will cause treatment that may slow progression. 

Can cerebellar ataxia be cured?

No cerebellar ataxia can’t be cured There are several factors that determine the symptoms and progression of this condition The exact cause is in many cases unknown but hereditary defects or infections of the central nervous system may play a role in its development.

Can ataxia improve?

Yes ataxia can be improved There is no cure for ataxia but treatments can slow down the rate of decline The earlier treatment begins the better Some patients may benefit from physical therapy and occupational therapy to help them compensate for the loss of muscle coordination In some cases surgery may be recommended to repair damaged nerves in the spinal cord or brain stem A special diet or vitamins have not been shown to improve symptoms that are related to damage in the brain’s cerebellum and basal ganglia areas.

What vitamin is good for ataxia?

Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that helps with the functioning of muscles and nerves When your body doesn't have enough vitamin E it can lead to a series of symptoms collectively known as ataxia Affecting balance coordination and muscle control ataxia often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed by doctors who don't recognize the potential causes of this condition.

Is there any new treatment for ataxia?

Our understanding of the underlying causes of ataxia has increased but no new curative treatments are available There is ongoing drug development for Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA) and Spinocerebellar Ataxias (SCA) , two rare forms of ataxia associated with genetic mutations.

How can I help someone with ataxia?

Ataxia is a neurological disorder that causes an inability to coordinate muscle movements It usually results in problems with walking but it can also affect speech and other muscles throughout the body Ataxia can be caused by stroke brain injury or a genetic mutation Severe cases of ataxia may lead to partial or complete loss of mobility and independence for the person who has it In milder cases ataxia can cause muscle weakness and clumsiness but daily life is otherwise not affected If you know someone with ataxia there are several things you can do to help them remain independent as possible.

How fast does ataxia progress?

Ataxia refers to problems with coordination balance and speech It occurs when the cerebellum becomes inflamed or when there is damage to the brain as a result of disease or injury The cerebellum coordinates muscle movements and plays a role in understanding language so it's no wonder that ataxia can affect both motor skills and speech There are three types of ataxia: spinocerebellar degeneration (SCD) Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA) and Machado-Joseph Disease (MJD) All three of these conditions cause similar symptoms but progress at differing.

Diagnosis Ataxia

If you've got dyssynergia, your doctor can explore for a treatable cause. Besides conducting a physical test and a neurologic test, together with checking your memory and concentration, vision, hearing, balance, coordination, and reflexes, your doctor may request laboratory tests, including:

  • Imaging studies. A CT scan or MRI of your brain may facilitate confirmation of potential causes. Associate MRI will typically show shrinkage of the neural structure and alternative brain structures in folks with nervous disorders. it should additionally show alternative treatable findings, like a grume or nonmalignant tumor, that would be pressing on your neural structure. 

  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap). A needle is inserted into your lower back (lumbar region) between 2 body part bones (vertebrae) to get rid of a sample of spinal fluid. The fluid that surrounds and protects your brain and neural structure is distributed to a laboratory for testing. 

  • Genetic testing. Your doctor may advocate genetic testing to work out whether or not you or your kid has the chromosomal mutation that causes one in every of the hereditary nervous disorder conditions. factor tests square measure offered for several however not all of the hereditary ataxias. 

Treatment Ataxia

There's no treatment specifically for neurological disease. In some cases, treating the underlying cause resolves the neurological disease, like stopping medications that cause it. In alternative cases, like neurological disease that results from varicella or alternative infectious agent infections, it's possible to resolve on its own. Your doctor may suggest treatment to manage symptoms, like depression, stiffness, tremor, fatigue or symptom, or counsel reconciling devices or therapies to assist along with your neurological disease.

Adaptive devices

Ataxia caused by conditions such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy might not be treatable. In that case, your doctor may be able to recommend adaptive devices. They include:

  • Hiking sticks or walkers for walking

  • Modified utensils for eating

  • Communication aids for speaking


You might benefit from certain therapies, including:

  • Physical therapy to help your coordination and enhance your mobility

  • Occupational therapy to help you with daily living tasks, such as feeding yourself

  • Speech therapy to improve speech and aid swallowing

Research has shown that transcranial magnetic stimulation may help improve gait and postural control in people with ataxia, but more research is needed. Some studies have indicated that aerobic exercise also may be beneficial for some people with idiopathic ataxic syndromes.

  1. Healthy foods for the musculoskeletal system
  2. Rehabilitation program and health tips for the musculoskeletal system

Coping and support

The challenges you face once living with dyssynergia or having a baby with the condition could possibly cause you to feel alone or cause depression and anxiety. rebuke a counselor or expert would possibly facilitate. otherwise you would possibly realize encouragement and understanding during a support cluster, either for dyssynergia or for your underlying condition, like cancer or induration.

Although support teams are not for everybody, they will be smart sources of knowledge. cluster members usually fathom the newest treatments and have a tendency to share their own experiences. If you are interested, your doctor may be able to advocate a gaggle in your space.

Preparing for your appointment

You're doubtless to begin by seeing your GP or a GP. In some cases, your doctor could refer you to a brain doctor.

Here's some data to assist you make preparations for your appointment.

What you can do

When you build the appointment, raise if there is something you wish to try and do prior to, like fast before having a particular take a look at. build an inventory of:

  • Your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment, and when they began

  • Key personal information, including other conditions you have and family medical history

  • All medications, vitamins or supplements you take, including doses

  • Questions to ask your doctor

Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember the information you get.

For ataxia, basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms?

  • Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes?

  • What tests do I need?

  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?

  • What's the best course of action?

  • Are there devices that can help me with coordination?

  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?

  • Are there restrictions I need to follow?

  • Should I see a specialist?

  • Are there brochures or other printed material I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?

  • Do you know of ataxia research studies I might participate in?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as:

  • Are your symptoms continuous or occasional?

  • How severe are your symptoms?

  • What seems to improve your symptoms?

  • What seems to worsen your symptoms?

  • Do you have family members who have had these types of symptoms?

  • Do you use alcohol or drugs?

  • Have you been exposed to toxins?

  • Have you had a virus recently?

What you can do in the meantime

Don't drink alcohol or take recreational medication, which might build your ataxy worse.

General summary

  1. Ataxia is a disorder characterized by loss of coordination in the voluntary movements It can affect speech sensory and autonomic function Loss of balance or coordination is often present Muscle weakness muscle atrophy (wasting) or spasticity may occur There are many possible causes for ataxia including systemic illnesses such as hypothyroidism malnutrition or electrolyte imbalance; vitamin deficiencies such as thiamine deficiency; neurological disorders including stroke or spinal cord injury and brain tumor; toxic substances such as arsenic poisoning from water or alcohol dependence syndrome; drug withdrawal after long-term drug use including alcohol abuse and exposure.

  2. in Dogs Ataxia is a condition most common in older dogs It is not life-threatening but it does affect the dog’s ability to walk jump and move properly Ataxia occurs when there is damage to the cerebellum we talked about earlier The cerebellum controls coordination and motivation Since the damage lies in areas of the brain dealing with movement the dog often resorts to “drunken walking” or walking with a wide gait in order to keep its balance That leads many owners to think that their dog has been drinking too much! In fact,ataxia isn.

  3. Ataxia is a complex disorder associated with neurological signs and symptoms caused by impaired balance coordination and speech resulting in the loss of independence to perform daily living activities Causes of ataxia including inherited conditions – Friedreich's ataxia spinocerebellar degeneration types 1 and 2 spinocerebellar degeneration type 3 (SCAD 3) hereditary spastic paraplegias; acquired causes– alcoholism and vitamin deficiencies The main treatment for ataxia is physical therapy to reduce language impairment with gait training to improve mobility and exercise Medications such as Vitamin E have.

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