- By sahlhealth
- May 18, 2021
- 24 views
Ataxia describes a lack of muscle control or coordination of voluntary movements, such as walking or picking up objects. A sign of an underlying condition, ataxia can affect various movements, creating difficulties with speech, eye movement and swallowing.Persistent ataxia usually results from damage to the part of your brain that controls muscle coordination (cerebellum). Many conditions can cause ataxia, including alcohol abuse, certain medications, stroke, tumor, cerebral palsy, brain degeneration and multiple sclerosis. Inherited defective genes also can cause the condition.Treatment for ataxia depends on the cause.Adaptive devices, such as walkers or canes, might help you maintain your independence. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and regular aerobic exercise also might help.
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
-If you have Ataxia, your doctor will look for a treatable cause. Besides conducting a physical exam and a neurological exam, including checking your memory and concentration, vision, hearing, balance, coordination, and reflexes, your doctor might request laboratory tests, including:
- Imaging studies. A CT scan or MRI of your brain might help determine potential causes. An MRI can sometimes show shrinkage of the cerebellum and other brain structures in people with Ataxia. It may also show other treatable findings, such as a blood clot or benign tumor, that could be pressing on your cerebellum.
- Lumbar puncture (spinal tap). A needle is inserted into your lower back (lumbar region) between two lumbar bones (vertebrae) to remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid, which surrounds and protects your brain and spinal cord, is sent to a laboratory for testing.
- Genetic testing. Your doctor might recommend genetic testing to determine whether you or your child has the gene mutation that causes one of the hereditary ataxic conditions. Gene tests are available for many but not all of the hereditary Ataxias.
-There's no treatment specifically for ataxia. In some cases, treating the underlying cause resolves the Ataxia, such as stopping medications that cause it. In other cases, such as Ataxia that results from chickenpox or other viral infection, it's likely to resolve on its own. Your doctor might recommend treatment to manage symptoms, such as pain, fatigue or dizziness or adaptive devices or therapies to help with your Ataxia.
-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