What Are the Basics of Ataxia?

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What is the definition of 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.

What are the signs or symptoms of ataxia?

The possible signs or symptoms of ataxia include:
  • Poor coordination.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Difficulty speaking.
  • Difficulty eating, writing or buttoning a shirt.
  • Change in speech.
  • Unsteady walking.
  • Involuntary back-and-forth eye movements (nystagmus).

What are the causes of ataxia?

The causes of ataxia include:
  • Heredity.
  • Stroke.
  • Infections.
  • Brain tumor.
  • Cerebral palsy.
  • Vitamin E, vitamin B-12 or thiamine deficiency.
  • Toxic reaction of certain medications such as phenobarbital, benzodiazepines.
  • Autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, sarcoidosis, and celiac disease.
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