Ataxia Awareness Day!

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What is Ataxia?

Ataxia is a term used to describe problems associated with balance and coordination.

Symptoms include difficulties with:

  • balance and walking
  • speaking
  • swallowing
  • tasks that require a high degree of control, such as writing and eating
  • vision

What causes Ataxia?

The symptoms that cause Ataxia are usually a result of damage to the cerebellum. The cerebellum sits at the base of the brain. Its role is to coordinate voluntary movement to give smooth and balanced muscle activity.

There are three main ways in which this damage may occur:

  • Acquired Ataxia – damage from a brain injury, stroke, MS, brain tumour
  • Hereditary Ataxia – symptoms are caused by a faulty gene, often developing over a number of years, Friedreich’s ataxia is an example of this.
  • Idiopathic late -onset cerebellar ataxia (ILOCA) – reasons for this progressive damage are unclear, often no cause can be found

Treatment for Ataxia:

Treatments are focussed on controlling the symptoms and may involve physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, as well as medical management.

Physiotherapy for Ataxia:

A physiotherapy programme will be based on a thorough assessment of the difficulties that ataxia gives you.

A programme will often concentrate on;

  • Balance and coordination.
  • Gait re-education
  • Strengthening exercise’s
  • Mobility at home and in the community
  • Management of spasms and contractures

How PhysioFunction Can Help

There are many ways in which physiotherapy can help, for example;

  • Hands on neurological therapy – to promote control and co-ordination of movement as well as address muscle soreness and spasms
  • Exercise therapy – to gain strength and co-ordination in movement, balance and walking
  • Hydrotherapy – working in the water is often beneficial, allowing a greater freedom of controlled movement.
  • Balance Tutoruse of the Balance Tutor gives a safe and supportive means of improving gait and balance
  • Alter G – the support given on the treadmill can assist in gait, balance and endurance
  • FES bike or cross trainer – this is useful to improve muscle strength and reduce spasticity as well as giving a cardiovascular work out
  • MindMotion Go – this virtual reality therapy is a great way of working on balance, strength and co-ordination


For more info: www.ataxia.org.uk