Ataxia

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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What is the treatment for ataxia?

The treatment of ataxia depends upon the underlying cause. Should the ataxia be found to be irreversible, physical and occupational therapy are the cornerstones of care, focusing on safety, mobility, maximizing function, and improving quality of life.

What is the prognosis for ataxia?

Ataxia is the sign of an underlying disease or illness and the prognosis depends upon the response to treatment of that underlying cause. For example, some causes of ataxia may be reversible (electrolyte imbalance, exposure to certain chemicals) so the prognosis is good while others (genetic, irreversible alcohol damage) may have a fair to poor prognosis.

Can ataxia be prevented?

Since ataxia is the sign of an underlying disease, it may not necessarily be preventable. However, avoiding external causes of ataxia (environmental chemicals and toxins) may prevent some individuals from developing ataxia. Currently, genetic causes are not preventable.

Medically reviewed by Joseph Carcione, DO; American board of Psychiatry and Neurology

REFERENCE:

Longo, Dan, et al. Harrisons's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. McGraw-Hill, 2011.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/6/2015

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