Ataxia is a brain disease of the cerebellum (along with its connections with other parts of the brain and spinal cord). Ataxia is the broad description of a perplexing, sometimes fatal, condition that robs it victims of their ability to coordinate movement, the critical work of the cerebellum. Walking, talking, holding objects, eye contact, even swallowing become monumental and, eventually, insurmountable tasks. Cerebellar disease does not produce ataxia by making muscles weak, but rather by destroying muscle coordination and by making it difficult, and eventually impossible, to move any part of the body accurately. Ataxia affects at least 150,000 Americans, three times the number of individuals affected by Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS).
Yes. There are hereditary and non hereditary ataxias, which mean some are passed through genetic make up from the parents of the patient. We can also have the condition of ataxia after suffering a stroke, having an accident, contracting a disease like meningitis, or anything that damages the cerebellum. Some types of ataxia can be diagnosis through DNA testing. See our page which lists some of the types of Ataxia that we provide care for.