MAY 07, 2018 07:45 AM PDT

What is Ataxia?

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Ataxia is a degenerative neurological disease that affects movement. It happens in the part of the brain called the cerebellum, which controls voluntary movement of muscles. It also impacts the brain stem and the spinal cord. It can begin anywhere from adolescence through middle age, and the body is involved from "head to toe." People who have it have trouble with eye movements, speech, and swallowing and the symptoms go down from there. They include fine motor trouble with the hands and fingers, walking, picking up objects and being able to dress oneself and do normal daily activities.

There's no cure for it because doctors do not fully understand what goes wrong in the brain to cause it. There are different types of ataxia and treatments depend on what type a patient has. Medications can be given that help with gait or balance and physical and occupational therapy can help patients regain some of the lost movement, but the road is a long one. At one hospital in Hartford CT, a doctor is setting up a support group for patients and their families. The group is located at Hartford Health Care in the Chase Family Movement Disorders Clinic and is helping patients navigate this disease.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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