Ataxias and Cerebellar or Spinocerebellar Degeneration Information Page

Ataxias and Cerebellar or Spinocerebellar Degeneration Information Page


Search Disorders

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports and conducts a broad range of basic and clinical research on cerebellar and spinocerebellar degeneration, including work aimed at finding the cause(s) of ataxias and ways to treat, cure, and, ultimately, prevent them. Scientists are optimistic that understanding the genetics of these disorders may lead to breakthroughs in treatment.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Cerebellar Disorders

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What research is being done?

The NINDS supports and conducts a broad range of basic and clinical research on cerebellar and spinocerebellar degeneration, including work aimed at finding the cause(s) of ataxias and ways to treat, cure, and, ultimately, prevent them. Scientists are optimistic that understanding the genetics of these disorders may lead to breakthroughs in treatment.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Cerebellar Disorders

The NINDS supports and conducts a broad range of basic and clinical research on cerebellar and spinocerebellar degeneration, including work aimed at finding the cause(s) of ataxias and ways to treat, cure, and, ultimately, prevent them. Scientists are optimistic that understanding the genetics of these disorders may lead to breakthroughs in treatment.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Cerebellar Disorders


Definition
Definition
Treatment
Treatment
Prognosis
Prognosis
Clinical Trials
Clinical Trials
Organizations
Organizations
Publications
Publications
Definition
Definition

Ataxia often occurs when parts of the nervous system that control movement are damaged. People with ataxia experience a failure of muscle control in their arms and legs, resulting in a lack of balance and coordination or a disturbance of gait. While the term ataxia is primarily used to describe this set of symptoms, it is sometimes also used to refer to a family of disorders. It is not, however, a specific diagnosis.

Most disorders that result in ataxia cause cells in the part of the brain called the cerebellum to degenerate, or atrophy. Sometimes the spine is also affected. The phrases cerebellar degeneration and spinocerebellar degeneration are used to describe changes that have taken place in a person’s nervous system; neither term constitutes a specific diagnosis. Cerebellar and spinocerebellar degeneration have many different causes. The age of onset of the resulting ataxia varies depending on the underlying cause of the degeneration.

Many ataxias are hereditary and are classified by chromosomal location and pattern of inheritance: autosomal dominant,in which the affected person inherits a normal gene from one parent and a faulty gene from the other parent; andautosomal recessive, in which both parents pass on a copy of the faulty gene. Among the more common inherited ataxias are Friedreich’s ataxia and Machado-Joseph disease. Sporadic ataxias can also occur in families with no prior history.

Ataxia can also be acquired. Conditions that can cause acquired ataxia include stroke, multiple sclerosis, tumors, alcoholism, peripheral neuropathy, metabolic disorders, and vitamin deficiencies.

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Definition

Ataxia often occurs when parts of the nervous system that control movement are damaged. People with ataxia experience a failure of muscle control in their arms and legs, resulting in a lack of balance and coordination or a disturbance of gait. While the term ataxia is primarily used to describe this set of symptoms, it is sometimes also used to refer to a family of disorders. It is not, however, a specific diagnosis.

Most disorders that result in ataxia cause cells in the part of the brain called the cerebellum to degenerate, or atrophy. Sometimes the spine is also affected. The phrases cerebellar degeneration and spinocerebellar degeneration are used to describe changes that have taken place in a person’s nervous system; neither term constitutes a specific diagnosis. Cerebellar and spinocerebellar degeneration have many different causes. The age of onset of the resulting ataxia varies depending on the underlying cause of the degeneration.

Many ataxias are hereditary and are classified by chromosomal location and pattern of inheritance: autosomal dominant,in which the affected person inherits a normal gene from one parent and a faulty gene from the other parent; andautosomal recessive, in which both parents pass on a copy of the faulty gene. Among the more common inherited ataxias are Friedreich’s ataxia and Machado-Joseph disease. Sporadic ataxias can also occur in families with no prior history.

Ataxia can also be acquired. Conditions that can cause acquired ataxia include stroke, multiple sclerosis, tumors, alcoholism, peripheral neuropathy, metabolic disorders, and vitamin deficiencies.

Treatment
Treatment

There is no cure for the hereditary ataxias. If the ataxia is caused by another condition, that underlying condition is treated first. For example, ataxia caused by a metabolic disorder may be treated with medications and a controlled diet. Vitamin deficiency is treated with vitamin therapy. A variety of drugs may be used to either effectively prevent symptoms or reduce the frequency with which they occur.  Physical therapy can strengthen muscles, while special devices or appliances can assist in walking and other activities of daily life.

×
Treatment

There is no cure for the hereditary ataxias. If the ataxia is caused by another condition, that underlying condition is treated first. For example, ataxia caused by a metabolic disorder may be treated with medications and a controlled diet. Vitamin deficiency is treated with vitamin therapy. A variety of drugs may be used to either effectively prevent symptoms or reduce the frequency with which they occur.  Physical therapy can strengthen muscles, while special devices or appliances can assist in walking and other activities of daily life.

Definition
Definition

Ataxia often occurs when parts of the nervous system that control movement are damaged. People with ataxia experience a failure of muscle control in their arms and legs, resulting in a lack of balance and coordination or a disturbance of gait. While the term ataxia is primarily used to describe this set of symptoms, it is sometimes also used to refer to a family of disorders. It is not, however, a specific diagnosis.

Most disorders that result in ataxia cause cells in the part of the brain called the cerebellum to degenerate, or atrophy. Sometimes the spine is also affected. The phrases cerebellar degeneration and spinocerebellar degeneration are used to describe changes that have taken place in a person’s nervous system; neither term constitutes a specific diagnosis. Cerebellar and spinocerebellar degeneration have many different causes. The age of onset of the resulting ataxia varies depending on the underlying cause of the degeneration.

Many ataxias are hereditary and are classified by chromosomal location and pattern of inheritance: autosomal dominant,in which the affected person inherits a normal gene from one parent and a faulty gene from the other parent; andautosomal recessive, in which both parents pass on a copy of the faulty gene. Among the more common inherited ataxias are Friedreich’s ataxia and Machado-Joseph disease. Sporadic ataxias can also occur in families with no prior history.

Ataxia can also be acquired. Conditions that can cause acquired ataxia include stroke, multiple sclerosis, tumors, alcoholism, peripheral neuropathy, metabolic disorders, and vitamin deficiencies.

Treatment
Treatment

There is no cure for the hereditary ataxias. If the ataxia is caused by another condition, that underlying condition is treated first. For example, ataxia caused by a metabolic disorder may be treated with medications and a controlled diet. Vitamin deficiency is treated with vitamin therapy. A variety of drugs may be used to either effectively prevent symptoms or reduce the frequency with which they occur.  Physical therapy can strengthen muscles, while special devices or appliances can assist in walking and other activities of daily life.

Prognosis
Prognosis

The prognosis for individuals with ataxia and cerebellar/spinocerebellar degeneration varies depending on its underlying cause.

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The prognosis for individuals with ataxia and cerebellar/spinocerebellar degeneration varies depending on its underlying cause.

Prognosis
Prognosis

The prognosis for individuals with ataxia and cerebellar/spinocerebellar degeneration varies depending on its underlying cause.

Definition

Ataxia often occurs when parts of the nervous system that control movement are damaged. People with ataxia experience a failure of muscle control in their arms and legs, resulting in a lack of balance and coordination or a disturbance of gait. While the term ataxia is primarily used to describe this set of symptoms, it is sometimes also used to refer to a family of disorders. It is not, however, a specific diagnosis.

Most disorders that result in ataxia cause cells in the part of the brain called the cerebellum to degenerate, or atrophy. Sometimes the spine is also affected. The phrases cerebellar degeneration and spinocerebellar degeneration are used to describe changes that have taken place in a person’s nervous system; neither term constitutes a specific diagnosis. Cerebellar and spinocerebellar degeneration have many different causes. The age of onset of the resulting ataxia varies depending on the underlying cause of the degeneration.

Many ataxias are hereditary and are classified by chromosomal location and pattern of inheritance: autosomal dominant,in which the affected person inherits a normal gene from one parent and a faulty gene from the other parent; andautosomal recessive, in which both parents pass on a copy of the faulty gene. Among the more common inherited ataxias are Friedreich’s ataxia and Machado-Joseph disease. Sporadic ataxias can also occur in families with no prior history.

Ataxia can also be acquired. Conditions that can cause acquired ataxia include stroke, multiple sclerosis, tumors, alcoholism, peripheral neuropathy, metabolic disorders, and vitamin deficiencies.

Treatment

There is no cure for the hereditary ataxias. If the ataxia is caused by another condition, that underlying condition is treated first. For example, ataxia caused by a metabolic disorder may be treated with medications and a controlled diet. Vitamin deficiency is treated with vitamin therapy. A variety of drugs may be used to either effectively prevent symptoms or reduce the frequency with which they occur.  Physical therapy can strengthen muscles, while special devices or appliances can assist in walking and other activities of daily life.

Prognosis

The prognosis for individuals with ataxia and cerebellar/spinocerebellar degeneration varies depending on its underlying cause.

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports and conducts a broad range of basic and clinical research on cerebellar and spinocerebellar degeneration, including work aimed at finding the cause(s) of ataxias and ways to treat, cure, and, ultimately, prevent them. Scientists are optimistic that understanding the genetics of these disorders may lead to breakthroughs in treatment.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Cerebellar Disorders

Patient Organizations
Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA)
P.O. Box 1537
Springfield
VA
Springfield, VA 22151
Tel: 703-426-1576
National Ataxia Foundation (NAF)
2600 Fernbrook Lane North
Suite 119
Minneapolis
MN
Minneapolis, MN 55447-4752
Tel: 763-553-0020
National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury
CT
Danbury, CT 06810
Tel: 203-744-0100; Voice Mail: 800-999-NORD (6673)
Publications

Olivopontocerebellar Atrophy information sheet compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Machado-Joseph disease information sheet compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Machado-Joseph Disease fact sheet developed by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Information on Freidreich's ataxia, compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Friedreich's Ataxia fact sheet compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Ataxia telangiectasia (A-T) information page compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).