Ataxia overview

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Differentiating Ataxia from other Diseases

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Ataxia (from Greek α- [used as a negative prefix] + -τάξις [order], meaning "lack of order") is a neurological sign and symptom consisting of gross incoordination of muscle movements. [1] Ataxia is an aspecific clinical manifestation implying dysfunction of parts of the nervous system that coordinate movement, such as the cerebellum. Several possible causes exist for these patterns of neurological dysfunction. The term "dystaxia" is rarely used as a synonym.

Risk Factors

Those who have a family history of inherited ataxia (e.g Friedreich's ataxia) may be at higher risk for developing ataxia. Genetic testing may be recommended in these cases.

Medical Therapy

There is no specific treatment for ataxia as such, altough there may be for the underlying cause. The disability of ataxia may be reduced by physical therapy, including exercises, along with leg braces or shoe splints. If foot alignment has been affected then a cane or walker is often used in the effort to prevent falls.

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