Ataxia - Types

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What are the different types of ataxia?

The cerebellum is the region of the brain that is responsible for coordinating motion in the body. When the brain commands part of the body to move, electrical signals are transmitted through the spinal cord into peripheral nerves that then stimulate a muscle to contract, initiating movement. That part of the body also has sensory nerves that collect information from the environment about position and proprioception, where the body is in time and space. These signals return via the same peripheral nerves but through a different pathway in the spinal cord. The cerebellum takes this information, as well as input from vision from the eyes and balance from the vestibular system of the inner ear, to help smooth out purposeful movement. Failure of any one or more of these pathway components can lead to ataxia.

Cerebellar ataxia is caused by abnormalities and damage, either temporary or permanent, to the cerebellum. Sensory ataxia occurs when the dorsal columns of the spinal cord fail to function normally. They are responsible for carrying proprioception information from the body to the brain. Damage to parts of the brain that have to interpret the information may also cause sensory ataxia. Vestibular ataxia describes loss of balance because the vestibular canals fail to function properly.

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Comment from: Aussie Crawf, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: April 22

I am currently 65 and I believe I have had spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) all my life. I had violent trembling in my upper body from 5 to 30, then it lay dormant, till I was admitted to hospital with a suspected stroke last year. It was while I was in hospital that the resident neurologist sent me to have an MRI scan and after viewing it, concluded that I hadn"t had a stroke, but I have SCA. My symptoms are falls, staggering, difference in voice sounds, occasional swallowing and disability to put a sentence together without having enough breath to say it. I furthermore had a prescription filled for the muscle relaxants: Minipress and Duodart, as I had an enlarged prostate at the time. It should never have been prescribed to me, an ataxia patient, as our blood pressure (BP) is already low when we stand and high when we lie down, causing my BP to once read 42/76, far too low. The world medical doctors have got to realize that certain medicines and tablets are not for ataxia patients.

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Comment from: J M Dean, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 27

Guillain-Barre syndrome, Miller Fisher variant was diagnosed in January 2006. Ptosis, ophthalmoplegia, and ataxia followed by persistent binocular vertical diplopia after my eyelids opened, continue to challenge me especially when I am tired, but I move without assistive devices.

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