What is Ataxia?

Ataxia is a term that describes a group of neurological disorders that affect co-ordination, balance and speech. It usually results from damage to a part of the brain called the cerebellum, but it can also be caused by damage to other parts of the nervous system.

There are three main types of ataxia:

Acquired ataxia: where symptoms develop as a result of trauma, stroke, multiple sclerosis, brain tumour, nutritional deficiencies, poisoning or other health conditions that damage the cerebellum or nervous system.

Hereditary ataxia: where the symptoms develop slowly over many years and are caused by underlying problems with the genes that a person inherits from their parents.

Idiopathic late onset cerebellar ataxia: where the cerebellum is progressively damaged over time for reasons that are still unclear.

Symptoms of Ataxia

The first noticeable symptoms of hereditary or idiopathic ataxia are usually loss of balance and co-ordination in your hands, arms and legs. Walking becomes increasingly difficult and many people walk with their feet further apart to compensate for their loss of balance. Ataxia usually progresses to affect the voice, throat and tongue.

The symptoms of acquired ataxia are usually the same as the general symptoms of hereditary ataxia, although they often develop very quickly over the course of a few days or, in some cases, hours.

Treatment of Ataxia

Treatment of ataxia varies according to the underlying cause. Some types of ataxia can be treated, but in most cases there is no cure. In some cases of acquired ataxia, it may be possible to relieve symptoms by treating the underlying cause.

Physiotherapy can be helpful to improve co-ordination and range of movement, also to prevent your muscles from weakening or getting stuck in one position.

Following a detailed assessment, your physiotherapist will set specific goals with you and plan a programme of treatment which may involve: hands on treatment and stretches, specific exercises, suggestions of equipment or aids, use of lycra garments and weights to aid stability, practical problem solving and advice to improve day-to-day situations.

How can Neurocare Physiotherapy help me?

At Neurocare, we are all highly specialised in treating neurological conditions, so you can be confident that your physiotherapist will have the necessary experience to provide you with the specialist level of treatment which you deserve.