Ataxia is a widespread movement coordination disorder. The strength in the limbs is slightly reduced or wholly preserved. There are many types of the disease depending on the cause: starting with hereditary forms and ending with infectious. Accordingly, treatment is directed on the primary reason and may include medication, symptomatic therapy, surgery, and rehabilitation.
Ataxia is a neuromuscular motility disorder characterised by impaired coordination of movements and loss of balance at rest and when walking. Incoordination of the actions of different muscles can result from damage to some regions of the brain or the vestibular apparatus, sometimes due to a genetic predisposition.
- In sensitive ataxia, fibres of deep sensitivity are disturbed, which carry information about the surrounding space and body position. The cause may be damage to the spinal cord, thalamus or spinal nerves, polyneuropathy and vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Vestibular ataxia (atrophy of vestibular apparatus) leads to specific gait disturbances, systemic dizziness, nausea and vomiting. All symptoms are aggravated by sharp turns of the head and changes in body position.
- Cortical (frontal) ataxia is caused by disorders of the brain's frontal lobe. The cause may be improper cerebral circulation, tumours or abscesses.
- Cerebellar ataxia signs include loss of speech fluency, various types of tremors, muscle hypotonia, and oculomotor dysfunction. Gait also has characteristic features: patients spread their legs wide and sway from side to side.
Degenerative changes of the cerebellum in families cause hereditary ataxia - chronic diseases of a progressive nature, which are of a dominant or recessive type:
- Friedreich ataxia is a rare hereditary neurological disease that begins at 5 to 15 years old. It debuts with clumsiness in movement, then unsteadiness and unsteadiness appear when walking.
- Ataxia telangiectasia (Louis–Bar syndrome) manifests by cerebellar ataxia, telangiectasia of the skin and conjunctiva, and deficiency of the T-cell immunity.
- And other rare genetic disorders include Pierre Marie cerebellar ataxia, restless legs syndrome (Willis-Ekbom disease), and stiff-person syndrome.
The diagnostic process is based on the identification of diseases in the family. In laboratory studies, there is a violation of amino acid metabolism. An MRI of the brain reveals atrophy of the spinal cord and brainstem, as well as the upper parts of the worm. With the help of electromyography, a demyelinating lesion of sensory fibres of peripheral nerves is revealed. To diagnose hereditary ataxias, neurologists provide DNA diagnostics. In rare cases, prenatal DNA diagnostic is strongly advised.
Treatment of ataxia eliminates the etiological factor that triggered the development. Depending on the specific disease, the following operations may be prescribed: tumour removal, elimination of bleeding, removal of the abscess and further antibacterial therapy. In rare cases, a procedure to reduce pressure in the posterior cranial fossa may be required. If there is a lack of vitamin B12, it must be compensated. In addition, hormonal drugs are indicated for demyelinating diseases and plasmapheresis. After treatment, a critical stage is a subsequent rehabilitation to improve cognitive and motor functions