What is cerebellar ataxia syndrome?

The term cerebellar ataxia syndrome is a description of a set of symptoms rather than a specific diagnosis or disease. Ataxia refers to an unsteadiness of gait or lack of muscle coordination. Cerebellar refers to the part of the brain called the cerebellum. The cerebellum is located inside the back and base of the skull, just above the top of the spinal cord. It processes input from other areas of the brain, the spinal cord, and sensory receptors. It is responsible for coordination and balance.

In cerebellar ataxia syndrome, people may have an unsteady gait or lack of coordination because of problems with the cerebellum. Cerebellar ataxia can be classified as acute (happening suddenly and rapidly) or chronic (happening slowly over time). It can also be recurrent (happening on and off over time) or progressive (getting worse over time).

There are a wide variety of diseases, disorders and conditions that can cause cerebellar ataxia syndrome. They include infectious diseases, inherited or genetic conditions, certain medications, tumors, trauma, and vascular conditions. Because of the range of possible causes of cerebellar ataxia syndrome, a correct diagnosis of the underlying disease, disorder or condition is important. Contact your healthcare provider for a physical exam if you have an unsteady gait, difficulty walking or talking, or problems with coordination.

The exact incidence of cerebellar ataxia syndrome in the United States is not known. However, it can happen at any age, in both males and females. Children younger than three are most likely to experience acute cerebellar ataxia, usually after a viral infection. Adults are more likely to experience chronic cerebellar ataxia that is associated with another neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis or tumors.

Treatment of cerebellar ataxia syndrome depends on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Acute cerebellar ataxia caused by viral infections will usually go away without treatment after several weeks. Treating other underlying diseases, disorders or conditions can help improve symptoms. Otherwise, treatment is supportive and is aimed at relieving symptoms and assisting with daily activities.

In some cases, the sudden appearance of the symptoms of cerebellar ataxia syndrome may indicate a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for sudden symptoms, such as difficulty speaking or walking, uncoordinated body movements, and severe headache or continued dizziness.

Seek prompt medical care if you have mild symptoms that are persistent, recur, or cause you concern.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of cerebellar ataxia syndrome?

Ataxia is a term that means incoordination, unsteadiness or wobbliness. Cerebellar ataxia is ataxia that is caused by problems with the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the area of your brain responsible for coordination and balance.... Read more about cerebellar ataxia syndromesymptoms

CAUSES

What causes cerebellar ataxia syndrome?

Cerebellar ataxia syndrome is caused by damage to or problems with the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the part of your brain that is responsible for coordination and balance. A wide variety of diseases, disorders and conditions can lead to problems with the cerebellum and cause ataxia.... Read more about cerebellar ataxia syndromecauses

TREATMENTS

How is cerebellar ataxia syndrome treated?

Treatment of cerebellar ataxia syndrome varies depending on the cause, severity, and other factors. Cerebellar ataxia caused by viral infections will often go away on its own within a few months. Treating the underlying cause, if one is identified, can help improve problems with balance and coordination. Otherwise, treatment is supportive and is aimed at managing your symptoms and assisting with activities of daily life.... Read more about cerebellar ataxia syndrometreatments

Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD Last Annual Review Date: Jul 25, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves