Explaining Ataxia

Photo credit: National Ataxia Society

I realize cancer is much more well known than ataxia, but I was really shocked when a friend of many years asked me “what is ataxia?” I answered the question as best I could, but I also referred him to the Medical News Today (MNT) and the National Ataxia Society websites for a more thorough definition. There are other many websites on which Ataxia is explained, but I mentioned the first ones that came to mind.

Excerpt of Article Written by Christian Nordqvist | Medical News Today

Ataxia is a lack of muscle coordination which may affect speech, eye movements, the ability to swallow, walking, picking up objects and other voluntary movements. A person with persistent ataxia may have damage in the part of the brain that controls muscle coordination – the cerebellum. Ataxia may have several causes, including multiple sclerosis, a head injury, alcohol abuse, stroke,cerebral palsy, a faulty gene, or a tumor. Ataxia may also be a symptom of incoordination linked to infections.

There are different types of ataxias including Friedreich’s ataxia and spinocerebellar ataxia type 6. A less common type is ataxia telangiectasia. According to Ataxia UK, there are over 40 known forms of inherited ataxias – new forms continue to be identified as scientific techniques improve.

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