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.
March 14, 2017
- NINDS ataxias and cerebellar or spinocerebellar degeneration information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/ataxia/ataxia.htm. Accessed Oct. 26, 2016.
- Todd PK. Overview of cerebellar ataxias in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 26, 2016.
- Perlman SL. Evaluation and management of ataxic disorders: An overview for physicians. National Ataxia Foundation. http://www.ataxia.org/resources/publications.aspx. Accessed Oct. 26, 2016.
- Ataxia telangiectasia. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/ataxia-fact-sheet. Accessed Oct. 26, 2016.