Cerebellar and Hereditary Ataxia

Cerebellar ataxia refers to disorders of the nervous system that cause unsteadiness and a lack of coordination. There are both acquired and hereditary forms of ataxia. Cases of acquired ataxia are usually caused by toxins (most commonly large quantities of alcohol), brain injury, viral infections or tumors.

Hereditary ataxia is a progressive disorder in which patients experience problems in coordination of the legs (imbalance), eye movements and arms. Walking can become increasingly difficult. Balance therapy is aimed at maintaining a normal walking pattern with as little dependence as possible on canes, walkers or wheelchairs.

People with this condition can become incontinent, and may have difficulties with swallowing and slurred speech. Sight and hearing can also be affected, but intellectual faculties are not usually impaired. While there is no cure for patients with cerebellar ataxia, balance therapy is crucial to helping patients maintain daily activities for as long as possible. Medications may relieve tremors and muscle spasms.

For more information, please contact our Balance Clinic at (727) 461-8635.