How Does Ataxia Affect Everyday Life?

What does ataxia feel like?

Ataxia is a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

Many symptoms of Ataxia mimic those of being drunk, such as slurred speech, stumbling, falling, and incoordination.

These symptoms are caused by damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that is responsible for coordinating movement..

How does ataxia affect the body?

Ataxia means without coordination. People who are diagnosed with ataxia lose muscle control in their arms and legs, which may lead to a lack of balance, coordination, and possibly a disturbance in gait. Ataxia may affect the fingers, hands, arms, legs, body, speech, and even eye movements.

How long can you live with ataxia?

Life expectancy is generally shorter than normal for people with hereditary ataxia, although some people can live well into their 50s, 60s or beyond. In more severe cases, the condition can be fatal in childhood or early adulthood. For acquired ataxia, the outlook depends on the underlying cause.

Does ataxia qualify for disability?

Ataxia can be disabling, and if you are unable to work and earn a living because of the severity of the condition, you may qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Does ataxia show up on MRI?

Imaging studies. An MRI can sometimes show shrinkage of the cerebellum and other brain structures in people with ataxia. It may also show other treatable findings, such as a blood clot or benign tumor, that could be pressing on your cerebellum.

What triggers ataxia?

Persistent ataxia usually results from damage to the part of your brain that controls muscle coordination (cerebellum). Many conditions can cause ataxia, including alcohol misuse, certain medication, stroke, tumor, cerebral palsy, brain degeneration and multiple sclerosis.

Can you drive with ataxia?

Most people with a cerebellar ataxia are able to safely drive. It is the duty of someone who develops a cerebellar disorder to notify the road licensing authority in their state, to ensure that their driver’s license is valid and that they are covered by their insurance.

Does exercise help ataxia?

Neuromotor exercises and physical therapy focusing on coordination and balance has been shown to improve or halt the progression of functional decline and are the mainstay treatments for Ataxia. The evidence has shown that balance training could improve the quality of walking as well as reduce the risk of falls.

Does ataxia affect memory?

The cerebellum plays a role in some forms of thinking. Patients with cerebellar atrophy may have impaired recall of newly learned information or difficulty with “executive functions” such as making plans and keeping thoughts in proper sequence.

What does ataxic gait look like?

An unsteady, staggering gait is described as an ataxic gait because walking is uncoordinated and appears to be ‘not ordered’. Many motor activities may be described as ataxic if they appear to others, or are perceived by patients, as uncoordinated.

Can ataxia cause dementia?

Dementia occurs only in some forms of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), such as SCA1,1 SCA2, SCA3,2 and SCA12,3 developing in the latest stages of the disease.

What kind of doctor treats ataxia?

The National Ataxia Foundation has compiled a list of neurologists across the United States and in some countries who see patients who have Ataxia or other movement disorders.

Does ataxia go away?

If ataxia results from an injury or illness, such as a stroke, symptoms often improve over time and may eventually go away completely.

Does ataxia worsen with age?

Ataxia can develop at any age. It is typically progressive, meaning it can get worse with time. It is a rare condition, affecting about 150,000 people in the U.S.