Overview of Ataxia (Impaired coordination) | Neurology


What is Ataxia?

Ataxia (Impaired coordination) describes a scarcity of muscle control or coordination of voluntary movements, like walking or learning objects. A symbol of an underlying condition, ataxia can affect various movements and make difficulties with speaking, moving the eyes, and swallowing.

Persistent ataxia is ordinarily the consequences of harm to an aspect of the cerebrum that controls muscle coordination (cerebellum). Many conditions can cause ataxia, including alcoholic abuse, certain medications, stroke, tumor, spastic paralysis, brain degeneration, and MS. Inherited faulty genes also can cause the condition.

Treatment for ataxia depends on the cause. Adaptive devices, like walkers or canes, can assist you to maintain your independence. physiotherapy, physical therapy, therapy, and regular aerobics also can help.

Types of ataxia

  • Ataxia
  • Ataxia with oculomotor apraxia
  • Dominant spastic ataxias
  • Dominant spinocerebellar ataxias (SCA)
  • Episodic ataxia
  • Friedreich’s ataxia
  • Recessive spastic ataxias
  • Wilson’s disease

Symptoms of ataxia

Ataxia can develop over time or appear suddenly. a symbol of a variety of neurological disorders, ataxia can cause:

  • Poor coordination
  • Unstable walk and tendency to stumble
  • Difficulty with fine motor tasks, like eating, writing, or buttoning a shirt
  • Change in speech
  • Involuntary back and forth eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Difficulty to swallow

Causes of ataxia

Damage, degeneration, or loss of nerve cells within a part of your brain that controls muscle coordination (cerebellum) leads to ataxia. Your cerebellum comprises two pieces of folded tissue located at the bottom of your brain near your brainstem. This area of the brain helps with balance, also as eye movements, swallowing, and speaking.

Diseases that damage the medulla spinalis and therefore the peripheral nerves that connect the cerebellum to the muscles also can cause ataxia. Causes of ataxia include:

  • Trauma to the top: Damage to the brain or medulla spinalis from a blow to the top, like might occur during a car accident, can cause acute cerebellar ataxia, which comes on suddenly.
  • Career: Both a blockage and bleeding within the brain can cause ataxia. When the blood supply to a part of your brain is stopped or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients, brain cells die.
  • Cerebral palsy: This is often a general term for a gaggle of disorders caused by damage to a child’s brain during early development, before, during, or shortly after birth, which affects the child’s ability to coordinate body movements.
  • Autoimmune diseases: MS, sarcoidosis, disorder, and other autoimmune conditions can cause impaired coordination.
  • Infections: It is often a rare complication of chickenpox and other viral infections like HIV and Lyme disease. It can appear within the healing stages of the infection and last for days or weeks. Normally, it resolves over time.
  • Paraneoplastic syndromes: These are rare degenerative disorders caused by the response of your system to a cancerous tumor (neoplasm), most ordinarily lung, ovarian, breast, or lymphatic cancer. It can appear months or years before the cancer is diagnosed.
  • Abnormalities within the brain: An infected area (abscess) within the brain can cause impaired coordination. Growth within the brain, cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign), can damage the cerebellum.
  • Toxic reaction: It may be a potential side effect of certain medications, especially barbiturates, like phenobarbital; sedatives, like benzodiazepines; antiepileptic drugs, like phenytoin; and a few sorts of chemotherapy. The toxicity of vitamin B-6 also can cause impaired coordination. it’s important to spot these causes because the consequences are often reversible.

Also, some medications you’re taking can cause problems as you age, so you’ll get to reduce your dose or stop the drug.

  • Liquor and medication inebriation: Weighty metal harming, similar to lead or mercury; and dissolvable harming, similar to acetone, likewise can cause this disease.
  • Deficiency of vitamin E, vitamin B-12, or thiamine: Not getting enough of those nutrients, thanks to the lack to soak up enough, alcoholic abuse, or other reasons, can cause impaired coordination.
  • Thyroid problems: Hypothyroidism and hypoparathyroidism can cause impaired coordination.
  • A contagion of COVID-19: This infection can cause this disease, most ordinarily in very severe cases.

For some adults who develop sporadic ataxia, no specific cause is often found. Sporadic ataxia can take several forms, including multisystem atrophy, a progressive disorder.

Hereditary ataxias

Some sorts of impaired coordination and a few conditions that cause it are inherited. If you’ve got one among these conditions, you were born with a defect during a certain gene that creates abnormal proteins. Abnormal proteins hamper the function of nerve cells, mainly within the cerebellum and medulla spinalis, and cause them to degenerate. because the disease progresses, coordination problems worsen.

You can inherit the genetic impaired coordination of a gene from one parent (autosomal dominant disorder) or a gene from each parent (autosomal recessive disorder). within the latter case, neither parent may have the disorder (silent mutation), so there could also be no obvious case history.

Different genetic defects cause different types of impaired coordination, most of which are progressive. Each type causes helpless coordination, however, each has explicit signs and manifestations.

Autosomal dominant ataxias

These include:

  • Spinocerebellar ataxias: Researchers have identified quite 40 autosomal dominant ataxia genes, and therefore the number continues to grow. Cerebellar ataxia and cerebellar degeneration are common to all or any types, but other signs and symptoms, also because the age of onset, differ supported the precise mutation.
  • Episodic ataxia (EA): There are eight recognized sorts of impaired coordination that are episodic in lug

Diagnosis of ataxia

If you’ve got impaired coordination, your doctor will search for a treatable cause. Additionally to performing a physical exam and neurological exam, including checking your memory and concentration, vision, hearing, balance, coordination, and reflexes, your doctor may order lab tests, including:

  • Imaging studies: A CT scan or MRI of your brain can help determine possible causes. Sometimes an MRI can show a contraction of the cerebellum and other brain structures in people with impaired coordination. it’s going to also show other treatable findings, like a grume or benign tumor, that would be pressing on the cerebellum.
  • Spinal puncture (lumbar puncture): A needle is inserted within the lower back (lumbar region) between two lumbar bones (vertebrae) to get rid of a sample of spinal fluid. The fluid, which surrounds and protects your brain and medulla spinalis, is shipped to a laboratory for analysis.
  • Genetic test: Your doctor may recommend genetic testing to work out if you or your child have the point mutation that causes one among the inherited ataxic conditions. Genetic testing is out there for several but not all inherited ataxias.

Treatment of ataxia

There is no specific treatment for impaired coordination. In some cases, treating the underlying cause resolves impaired coordination, like stopping the drugs that cause it. In other cases, like impaired coordination that results from chickenpox or other viral infections, it’s likely to resolve on its own. Your doctor may recommend treatment to regulate symptoms, like depression, stiffness, tremor, fatigue, or dizziness, or suggest adaptive devices or therapies assist together with your impaired coordination.

Adaptive devices

It is caused by conditions like MS or spastic paralysis might not be treatable.

In that case, your doctor may recommend adaptive devices. They include:

  • Hiking poles or walkers for walking
  • Modified eating utensils
  • Communication aids for speaking


You may enjoy certain therapies, including:

  • Physiotherapy to assist your coordination and improve your mobility.
  • Physical therapy to assist you with tasks of daily living, like eating
  • Therapy to enhance speech and help to swallow

Research has shown that transcranial magnetic stimulation can help improve gait control and posture in people with impaired coordination, but more research is required. Some studies have indicated that aerobics can also be beneficial for a few people with idiopathic ataxic syndromes.


The progression of the various sorts of impaired coordination can vary with each specific syndrome. At worst, the person may have intractable stiffness, trouble breathing, or suffocation which will cause death. a number of the harder symptoms require treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, tracheostomy, or a feeding tube.

Falling or lying prostrate during a chair or bed can cause other life-threatening complications, including injuries, pressure sores, infections, and blood clots. Dementia, behaviour problems, and depression can influence compliance and a spotlight. Other complications of this disease can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Spasticity
  • Stiffness
  • Tremor
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Low vital sign when sitting or standing
  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction
  • Sexual dysfunction

Many things are often done to enhance the standard of life for the person with Impaired coordination.

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