Ataxia is a degenerative condition that affects the nervous system. Many symptoms of ataxia can be similar to those of being drunk. The symptoms occur due to the degeneration of part of the brain known as the cerebellum. The cerebellum functions to help with the coordination of movement.
This condition affects individuals of all ages ranging from early childhood to late adulthood. The complications of this condition can be serious, debilitating, and can shorten life expectancy. It can also be limited to one side of the body (hemiataxia). The term ataxia can be used to classify a group of diseases such as spinocerebellar ataxia, ataxia telangiectasia, sporadic ataxia, episodic ataxia, multiple system atrophy, and Freidreich’s ataxia.
Treatment for ataxia ultimately depends on the underlying cause and aims to reduce the effects of ataxia. Options include pharmacological treatments and physical therapy.
Symptom #1: Poor Muscle Coordination
Motor coordination is a combination of body movements that creates kinetic and kinematic parameters resulting in actions. Motor coordination occurs when body parts move in a manner that is smooth, efficient, and well-timed.
The integration of proprioceptive information that details the movement and position of the musculoskeletal system with neural processes in the spinal cord or brain helps to plan, control, and relay motor commands. The cerebellum (in the brain) has a vital role in the neural control of movement. Damage to the cerebellum or the connecting structures can result in ataxia.