Ataxia is a degenerative disease of the nervous system. Many symptoms of Ataxia can mimic those of being drunk – slurred speech, stumbling, falling, and incoordination. All are related to degeneration of the part of the brain, called the cerebellum, that is responsible for coordinating movement. Ataxia is a disease that affects people of all ages. Age of symptom-onset can vary widely, from childhood to late-adulthood. Complications from the disease are serious, oftentimes debilitating, and can be life-shortening.
Symptoms vary by person and type of Ataxia. Symptom onset and progression vary as well. Symptoms may worsen slowly, over decades – or quickly, over mere months. Common symptoms of Ataxia are lack of coordination, slurred speech, trouble eating and swallowing, eye movement abnormalities, deterioration of fine motor skills, difficulty walking, gait abnormalities, tremors, and heart problems. Individuals with Ataxia often require the use of wheelchairs, walkers, and/or scooters to aid in their mobility.
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