What is Ataxia?

Ataxia is a rare neurological disease.
It is progressive – affecting a person’s ability to walk, talk, and use fine motor skills.
What is Ataxia?
Ataxia is a degenerative disease of the nervous system. Many symptoms of Ataxia mimic those of being drunk, such as slurred speech, stumbling, falling, and incoordination. These symptoms are caused by damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that is responsible for coordinating movement. Ataxia treatment involves a combination of medication to treat symptoms and therapy to improve quality of life.

People affected by Ataxia may experience problems with using their fingers and hands, arms, legs, walking, speaking or moving their eyes. Ataxia affects people of all ages. Age of symptom-onset can vary widely, from childhood to late-adulthood. Complications from the disease are serious and oftentimes debilitating. Some types of Ataxia can lead to an early death.

Ataxia symptoms vary by person and type of Ataxia. Rate of progression varies as well. Symptoms may worsen slowly, over decades – or quickly, over mere months. Common symptoms of Ataxia are:

Lack of coordination
Slurred speech
Trouble eating and swallowing
Deterioration of fine motor skills
Difficulty walking
Gait abnormalities
Eye movement abnormalities
Heart problems
Individuals with Ataxia often require the use of wheelchairs, walkers, and/or scooters to aid in their mobility.


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