How to Diagnose and Treat Ataxia?

Ataxia describes a lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements including walking, picking up objects, speaking, swallowing and eye movements.

Ataxia is a clinical manifestation showing dysfunction of the parts of the nervous system which coordinate movement. It can occur to one side or both sides of the body.

How to diagnose ataxia?

Ataxia can be diagnosed through its signs and symptoms, it can also be diagnosed by some laboratory tests.

The common signs of ataxia include:

  • Poor coordination.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Difficulty speaking.
  • Difficulty eating, writing or buttoning a shirt.
  • Change in speech.
  • Unsteady walk.
  • Involuntary back-and-forth eye movements (nystagmus).

The tests for ataxia include:

  • Genetic test: to determine whether the patient has the gene mutation.
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap): to exam the fluids that protect your brain and spinal cord.
  • CT scan or MRI: to help to determine the possible causes of ataxia.

How to treat ataxia?

The treatment of ataxia depends on the causes of the disease. It should be noticed that treatment may limit or reduce the effects of ataxia, but it is impossible to eliminate the disease entirely.

There are some common therapies for the disease:

  • Physical therapy to improve body coordination and enhance mobility.
  • Occupational therapy to help to do with daily tasks, such as eating and picking up objects.
  • Speech therapy to improve speech ability and swallow ability.

Besides, some medications are helpful to reduce the effects of ataxia.

  • 5-hydroxytryptophan
  • Physostigmine
  • Vitamin E
  • Idebenone
  • Amantadine
  • Vigabatrin
  • L-carnitine
  • Derivatives
  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole
  • Phosphatidylcholine
  • Acetazolamide
  • 4-aminopyridine
  • Buspirone

It should be noticed that the treatments depend on your real situation and the causes of the disease, you should consult your doctor for advice.

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