Free Essay: The Main Causes and Types of Ataxia
What is Ataxia?
Ataxia is a condition used to refer to poor or uncontrolled muscle coordination in the body. It can affect motor skills and movement in patients. Most of those who have this disease have no or little control of their movements. This disease affects daily activities such as walking, eye movement, speech, ability to swallow, picking up objects and other voluntary movements.
Ataxia can be hereditary or non-hereditary depending on its cause. Most of the patients who get ataxia suffer from an ataxic gait. This disease can also be an underlying symptom of other ailments affecting the body. The day for ataxia is celebrated every year on 25th September.
What causes Ataxia?
Ataxia can be caused by three main factors:
- Vitamin B12 This when combined with other neurological abnormalities may cause overlapping sensory and cerebellar ataxia.
- Inherited ataxia. This condition can be hereditary and passed on to children from their parents. Depending on the type of ataxia, hereditary ataxia can be in the form of recessive or dominant inheritance. Recessive inheritance ataxia is only passed to the child if both parents carry the faulty gene. An example of this is the Friedrich’s ataxia. For dominant ataxia, the child is at 50% risk of developing ataxic condition if one of their parents has the defective gene. A case in point is the Spinocerebellar ataxia. In some cases inherited ataxia may worsen from one generation to the next and the onset age may become younger with each generation.
- Non-inherited ataxia. In some cases, patients may develop ataxia due to damages of certain important body parts which control motor skills and coordination of muscles. There are circumstances and procedures that may cause ataxia in people who do not have any family history of ataxia. These include: brain tumor, brain surgery, head injury, alcohol abuse, exposure to toxic chemicals, malformation of the cerebellum while the baby is still in the womb, infections such as chicken pox, drug abuse and multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and some other neurological conditions.
What are the types of Ataxia?
There are different types of ataxia. These include:
- Cerebellar ataxia. This is usually caused by dysfunction of the cerebellum which is the part of the brain responsible for coordination and control of motor skills. This type of ataxia is characterized by poor movement, lack of coordination in movement between organs, limbs and muscles. There is also difficulty in movement of the eye as well as comprehending distance and time components.
- Sensory ataxia. This is where the patient loses proprioception which is the ability to sense the neighboring parts of the body especially during coordination or basic movement. Basically such patients have difficulty in moving and also coordination of limbs, pharynx, larynx and eyes.
- Vestibular ataxia. This occurs when the vestibular system is affected. In this case, the patient may experience vertigo, nausea and sometimes vomiting in severe conditions. Patients also experience giddiness and unsteadiness.
While this is not an exhaustive list of the types of ataxia, there are other types of this condition. Each may exhibit similar symptoms like lack of coordination but have a particular distinctive feature of the disease.
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