What is Ataxia?

Ataxia is a term used to describe the physical symptoms of incoordination or imbalance. Ataxia can be caused by various conditions, including head trauma, stroke, tumor, or heredetary gene defects. In other words, many different diseases or conditions can cause the incoordination and imbalance that is refered to as "ataxia," but some people have the disease called "Ataxia" - a degenerative disease of the nervous system, not an effect from another condition.

Ataxias are broken down into many different named diseases, such as Spinocerebellar Ataxia, Friedreich's Ataxia, and others. Some of the Ataxias are inherited recessively, some are inherited dominantly, and others appear sporadically. The symptoms and progression of the conditions vary among the different diseases and even among different family members with the same disease.

Some symptoms associated with Ataxia:

  • progressive loss of coordination (ataxia) in the arms and legs
  • muscle weakness due to incoordination and atrophy
  • some vision impairment, hearing loss, and slurred speech
  • scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
  • diabetes mellitus
  • heart conditions (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy)

The National Ataxia Foundation and InterNAF provide a wealth of information about the diseases of Ataxia. In addition, FARA provides information specific to Friedreich's Ataxia.

We also have links on this website to other sources of information.

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