A Date To Remember:
Today is International Ataxia Awareness Day. This is something very close to my own heart as I suffer from a form of it called Cerebellar Ataxia. I was born with this condition, even though at the time I was diagnosed as having epilepsy, which puzzled doctors immensely as I never had any fits. I finally was told in my thirties after seeing countless other neurologists, that I did come upon this specialist that he had only seen one other case with my symptoms, it was then that he wanted to do numerous test on me. It was then that I was told I had cerebellar ataxia.
The Ataxia I have is degenerative. My symptoms will eventually get worse, but I always tell people that I don’t want pity as there are others that have it worse. There are several different types of ataxia and each one as there own difficulties, this awareness is for everyone that suffers with it. For me, my ataxia can last for a few hours to sometimes days, it’s very draining and takes all my energy to fight it. With Cerebellar Ataxia, I have repetitive eye movement called Nystagmus, sometimes it gets difficult to see as my eyesight will become blurry.
The word ataxia actually means “without coordination.” Ataxia is a movement disorder that is caused by problems in the brain. With ataxia, you have trouble moving parts of your body, as it doesn’t work the way you would like it too. Also with ataxia, the muscles in your arms and legs might move when you don’t want them to.
Ataxia isn’t a disorder or a disease itself, it is a sign of other underlying disorders or other diseases. Doctors have discovered that there is anywhere from 50 up to 100 different types of ataxias. They are grouped into specific categories that are based on what causes them or based on which part of the body that they affect. Ataxia may be temporary or progressive and permanent. Spinocerebellar ataxia is one type that is permanent ataxia.
Types of Ataxia by Affected Area:
Ataxia is caused by damage to different areas of the central nervous system. Doctors categorize it by the specific part of the brain most affected, including:
- Cerebellar (brain)
- Sensory (nerves)
- Vestibular (ears)
The cerebellum is part of your brain that takes charge of your balance and coordination. When part of your cerebellum starts to erode or wear away, you can develop cerebellar ataxia. Sometimes it can also affect your spinal cord.
Symptoms of cerebellar ataxia include:
- Behavior or personality changes.
- Changes in your voice.
- Low muscle tone.
- Muscle tremors.
- Slurred speech.
- Trouble walking.
- Wide gait.
Sensory ataxia is the result of damage you have to the nerves in your spinal cord or your peripheral nervous system. That is the part of your nervous system that is outside of the brain and spinal cord.
When you have sensory ataxia it affects the sensations in your feet and legs, that is caused by nerve damage, it doesn’t send the relevant information back up to the brain, telling you where your body is in relation to the ground. The alternative word for it is called Proprioceptive ataxia.
Symptoms of Sensory Ataxia Include:
- Difficulty touching your finger to your nose with closed eyes.
- Inability to sense vibrations.
- Trouble walking in the dim light.
- Walking with a “heavy step,” or stomping when you walk.
Vestibular Ataxia affects the vestibular system. This system is made up of the inner part of your ear and ear canals, which contain fluid. They can sense the movements of your head and help with your balance and spatial orientation.
When the nerves in your vestibular system wear away, you can have the following problems:
Symptoms of Vestibular Ataxia Include:
- Blurred vision and other eye issues.
- Nausea and Vomiting.
- Problems standing and sitting.
- Staggering when you walk.
- Trouble walking in a straight line.
- Vertigo, or dizziness.
I want to say thank you for taking the time to read this.