Ataxia... what's that?
Any person with ataxia will hear this question a lot. With only 10,000 people in the UK who are diagnosed, ataxia is a rare condition; here, we explain what it is. You can find some examples of how to explain ataxia to others, too.
The Science Stuff
What is ataxia?
‘Ataxia’ is an umbrella term for a group of neurological disorders that affect balance, coordination and speech. There are many different types of ataxia that affect people in different ways.
Who gets ataxia?
Anyone of any age can get ataxia, but certain types are more common in certain age groups. For example, people with Friedreich’s ataxia are usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence.
How many people have ataxia?
The ataxias are rare conditions. Estimates from recent studies say that there are at least 10,000 adults and around 500 children in the UK with a progressive ataxia. To find out more about issues people with ataxia face.
Is there any cure?
Some forms of ataxia are treatable, but in most cases there is still no cure. We are supporting research and putting all our efforts in trying to get treatments or cures for the ataxias.
What causes ataxia?
There are many different causes for ataxia. It's important to remember that ataxia is also a symptom of other conditions (such as MS). It can be acquired after head trauma or intoxication; many ataxias are inherited conditions caused by defects in certain genes.
The most common inherited progressive ataxia is Friedreich’s ataxia. Research is on-going to identify other genes which cause inherited cerebellar ataxias and discover how they exert their effects. However there are still many people who do not have a specific diagnosis for their inherited ataxia. These people would be diagnosed as having idiopathic cerebellar ataxia and there are many researchers focusing on finding new genes and new types of ataxias.
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