What is Ataxia?

21:53 - 4 May , 2021


It is a condition in which control of the muscles and the ability to perform movements voluntarily are partially or totally lost, and can also cause problems swallowing, speaking, or moving the eyes.

Ataxia is commonly caused by a lesion in the cerebellum, which is in charge of muscles coordination. Such damage can be caused by genetic inheritance, multiple sclerosis, alcoholism, some drugs, stroke, tumors, degenerative neurological diseases, thyroid problems, autoimmune diseases, trauma, infections, and poisoning.

The treatment indicated for ataxia usually depends on the degree of involvement and the direct cause, but when treating the cause, it is common to complement physical, occupational, and language therapy, with a permanent physical activity program.

Signs and symptoms Ataxia

The symptoms can appear suddenly or develop progressively. The most frequent being:

  • Decreased ability to perform specialized motor activities, such as writing or eating food.
  • Speech difficulties.
  • Nystagmus.
  • Swallowing problems.
  • Poor coordination.
  • Trouble walking that causes constant tripping.

If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately to determine the cause of your ataxia and treat it promptly.

Diagnosis and treatment Ataxia

Once the doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, you will have a physical examination that will include a neurological exam to identify the possible cause of your ataxia. Also, to rule out conditions and confirm the diagnosis, you will be asked for:

  • Blood tests.
  • Computed tomography.
  • MRI.
  • Lumbar puncture.
  • Genetic analysis.

There is no specialized treatment for this condition, but many times, by treating the direct cause, the ataxia disappears.

However, in addition to the specific treatment of the cause, your doctor may prescribe some drugs to control the symptoms or prescribe the use of devices to walk or perform other activities that are difficult for you.

Similarly, it has been seen that using various support therapies can significantly collaborate in the recovery of patients, such as:

  • Physical therapy can help you with coordination and improve mobility.
  • Occupational therapy.
  • Speech therapy.

Additionally, recent studies have concluded that transcranial magnetic stimulation is effective in improving movements in patients affected by ataxia, who can also combine an aerobic exercise program to help their recovery. At the Neurological Center, a select group of highly trained and certified doctors in the various neurological specialties are ready to assist you with the quality and warmth that characterizes us.

Nervous system specialties

  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Spine surgery
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuro-rehabilitation
  • Neuro-pathology
  • Interventional neuro-radiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neuro-otology
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Neuroimaging


  • nidcd.nih.gov
  • topdoctors.es
  • mayocilinic.org
  • medlineplus.gov
  • msdmanuals.com
  • medigraphic.com
  • Rodríguez-Labrada R, Medrano-Montero J, Velázquez-Pérez L . Hereditary ataxias in cuba: Results and impact of a comprehensive, multidisciplinary project. MEDICC Review. 2019;21(4):39-45.
  • González GY, Vázquez MY, Torres VR, et al. Cerebellar ataxias and viral infections: clinical characterization and neuropathogenic mechanisms. Rev Cubana Med Trop. 2020;72(1):1-23.
  • Medrano-Montero J, Velázquez-Pérez L, Rodríguez-Labrada R, et al. Disfunción temprana de nervios craneales correlaciona con alteraciones de la morfología facial en la ataxia espinocerebelosa tipo 2. Los nervios craneales y la morfología facial en SCA2. Investigación en Discapacidad. 2018;7(2):53-66.
  • DomínguezCLG, AlcocerMJL, ArellanoAG, et al. Ataxia aguda en adolescente: presentación de un caso. Acta Med. 2019;17(2):172-176.

How can we help you?

    The dissemination of the content of this material is for informational purposes only and does not replace, under any circumstance or condition, a consultation with a specialist doctor, for which the ABC Medical Center is not responsible for the different use that may be given to it. If you require more information related to the subject, we suggest you contact the specialist doctor you trust directly.