The ataxia is a clinical sign rather peculiar, since he who suffers, usually experience muscle decontrol, as well as the loss of coordination of the extremities of the body, among other symptoms. It usually affects a remarkable number of people. It can be due to different reasons; That is why it is recommended to know everything about ataxia, in order to rule out serious diseases, and / or deal with the appearance of it.
Definition of ataxia: What is ataxia?
Ataxia is a term derived from the Greek, composed of the words ” a ” and ” taxia “, which mean “without” and “order” respectively. As has been well mentioned, ataxia is a clinical sign, which can affect people and animals , in different parts of the body, such as: arms, legs, hands, or fingers. In addition, it can also affect the ability to speak, eye movements, among other aspects.
Causes of ataxia
The causes of ataxia are quite varied, since it is usually generated with the damage or loss of brain neurons that are responsible for controlling muscle coordination, which are found in the cerebellum.
The cerebellum has two parts that are located at the base of the brain, each one of them controls the coordination of the opposite side to which they belong; This means that the right part of the cerebellum is in charge of controlling the mobility of the left part of the body, and the left, controls the mobility of the right part.
However, it should be noted that damage to the cerebellum is not the only reason that can cause ataxia, since there are some diseases that can cause it, among them are the following:
- Infections: Ataxia may develop as a complication related to chickenpox , in addition to other viral infections. But it is important to note that when it is caused by infections, it usually disappears with the passing of days or weeks, it almost never lasts more than a month in these cases.
- Tumors: abnormal growth of tissues in the brain (regardless of whether it is benign or malignant), can cause damage to the cerebellum; and this could lead to the appearance of ataxia.
- CVA: in cerebrovascular accidents, it is very likely that the blood supply to the brain is stopped or decreased, which causes the brain tissue to stop receiving the necessary nutrients and oxygen levels; a factor that can cause the death of a large number of brain cells which could lead to ataxia.
- Head injuries : blows or high-impact injuries to the head, have the ability to greatly damage the brain and spinal cord; something that could generate cerebellar ataxia.
- Autoimmune diseases: there are certain diseases that can cause ataxia , among the most common are multiple sclerosis, celiac disease and sarcoidosis .
- Others: in addition to all the aforementioned reasons, it is possible to experience ataxia for other reasons, among them is infantile cerebral palsy, the deficiency of certain vitamins (such as E and B12), among others.
Ataxia Symptoms: How Do You Know If You Have Ataxia?
Being a clinical sign, ataxia can generate various symptoms, just as a disease would; however, this is not considered a disease as such. Among the set of symptoms that an individual suffering from ataxia may present , the following should be mentioned:
- Lack of coordination: this is one of the simplest symptoms to identify, since the individual or animal suffering from ataxia will have great difficulty coordinating their movements. Also, it is very likely that you will experience tremors, stiffness, or muscle contraction.
- Instability: due to the aforementioned symptom, it will be extremely difficult for those suffering from ataxia to maintain stability while walking. Your stability will even resemble that of a person under the influence of alcohol.
- Inability to do basic activities: Basic motor movements for a human, such as walking, writing or eating, will be affected by ataxia.
- Dysarthria : in the same way, when suffering from this clinical sign it is possible to experience dysarthria, this symptom causes changes in speech, as well as difficulty in articulating words.
- Nystagmus: Another of the most frequent symptoms in people who have ataxia is nystagmus ; This consists of uncontrolled eye movement; it is usually involuntary and in different directions, being horizontal, rotary, vertical, oblique, or all of the above.
Although such symptoms are the most accurate in identifying ataxia, it is important to note that if you experience loss of balance, vision problems, complications controlling limb mobility or speaking, it is important to attend a medical center asap as it is likely to be ataxia.
As an important fact, not all symptoms usually appear, sometimes only one is manifested, and the most frequent is usually complications when controlling extremities.
As in most conditions, clinical signs, illnesses and health complications, to obtain a diagnosis it is necessary for the patient to go to a medical consultation, so that it is possible to carry out the clinical interview and physical examination ; in order to rule out options and start assigning the relevant exams.
To be evaluated in order to rule out ataxia, it is necessary to go to a neurological consultation, so that the specialist can indicate tests that can help identify the problem. Usually, the diagnosis of ataxia requires the following medical tests:
- Blood tests
- Urine analysis.
- Lumbar puncture .
- Genetic studies.
- CT scans.
- Magnetic resonance.
It is worth mentioning that the tests to be carried out may vary with each type of ataxia and the symptoms that the patient experiences. In addition, it should be known that the doctor may require other tests to complement the diagnosis .
Cure or treatment for ataxia
If ataxia is diagnosed early, it will be much easier for the patient to cope with it, since this is one of the health conditions with the lowest rate of cure ; therefore, usually only a treatment that helps patients to lead a normal life can be assigned.
Generally, to avoid motor complications and lack of balance, the use of a cane, crutches or wheelchairs is recommended; which may vary with the type of ataxia suffered, as well as the level in which it has affected the patient.
While, to treat the other symptoms, it is possible to resort to medications, surgeries, physical therapies, occupational therapies and speech therapies. All this, with the aim that the individual begins to adjust his life again, because depending on the type of ataxia he suffers , it will be the type of treatment that he must take.
In addition, it is worth mentioning that, in some cases, doctors recommend turning to a psychologist, since they may feel frustration, depression, anguish or anxiety, due to the problems that ataxia implies.
In short, there is no effective cure for ataxia, there are only treatments that help reduce the effects and symptoms (and in some cases, to completely disappear ataxia, although there will always be sequelae).
Care to be followed by those with ataxia
As has been well mentioned, ataxia is a disorder that does not have a cure, so, depending on its severity, it will be necessary for the patient to follow a certain amount of care that facilitates and allows this problem not to affect his or her further. lifetime. Among the set of care and attention that ataxia patients should follow are mentioned:
- Adapt the home to the needs of the patient , so that it is safe and does not endanger their life or well-being. This includes adaptations of countertops, tables, shelves, among others.
- Avoid unevenness in the ground, for this must be reconstructions and adaptations at home.
- Install ramps in case the patient uses a wheelchair.
- Change the type of clothing used, for this it is necessary to avoid clothing with closures, buttons and buckles; instead, the use of laces is recommended.
- Regular physical activity is really important, since ataxia loses much of your motor skills. Therefore, it is necessary to exercise in order to develop greater control of the movement.
- Avoid alcohol consumption, as this could worsen the ataxia condition.
- Eat a healthy diet , as it is important to avoid foods rich in sugar; instead, it is recommended to consume high levels of protein.
- Depending on the severity of the ataxia, it may be necessary to provide food through a tube; generally for this it is necessary to use food in liquid state.
Sequelae of ataxia
Depending on the type of ataxia, the patient will be able to overcome the situation, however, this disorder generally leaves sequelae, among which the following may be found:
Having suffered or suffering from ataxia, it is very likely that there will be sequelae related to mobility problems (even if the treatment is being followed), so it will be necessary for the patient to use orthopedic equipment, which facilitates the performing basic tasks , such as walking, getting up, holding objects, among others.
However, if the patient is elderly, this may be quite difficult for him, so he will need support from third parties.
If the patient has suffered from ataxia for a long time, the speech problems may remain in the form of sequelae. That is why it is recommended to attend speech therapy , so that the damage caused by this disorder is not so significant.
Ataxia in animals: is it the same as in humans?
Certainly, ataxia is a pathology that can be suffered by animals, generally cats and dogs. All this due to causes such as trauma and infections; It is important to mention that ataxia in animals affects them in a similar way, however, the symptoms can have certain types of variations .
Causes of animal ataxia
Both dogs and cats are prone to ataxia, due to the fact that lesions in the cerebellum and the vestibular system can give rise to this condition; since, the functioning of the cells that are in these sites is affected. Therefore, the ability to balance, as well as motor coordination, is greatly impaired .
Generally, the most common causes for this problem are usually blows, falls or impacts with objects of great hardness, for example, hitting a dog or cat, if it does not cause their death, it could generate ataxia, as well as other problems .
Likewise, intoxication is also a factor that can trigger the appearance of ataxia , since both dogs and cats can ingest any type of food or substance, if proper care is not taken.
For an animal of this style to develop this problem, it is necessary for it to consume xylitol ; It is a sweetening substance that is used in a certain amount of food products, which are suitable for human consumption, but not for animal consumption.
Symptoms of ataxia in animals
Symptoms in animals with ataxia are relatively different from those in humans ; generally, they tend to be tremors, vomiting, involuntary eye movement, bleeding, unconsciousness, shortness of breath, incoordination to walk, as well as seizures.
Treatment of ataxia in animals
The treatment that animals must follow when suffering from ataxia is based on the use of analgesics, antibiotics and complete rest; however, surgery may be required. On the other hand, if the ataxia was caused by intoxication, then fluid therapy will be necessary , which is a practice that consists of the intravenous administration of liquid, in order to reestablish the balance of the fluids contained in the animal’s body.
It is a hereditary ataxia, this usually causes progressive degeneration of the cerebellum , peripheral nerves and spinal cord. Its symptoms are noticeable in childhood and adolescence. However, it is possible that it appears until the 30 years of age.
The first signs are usually trouble walking, as well as difficulty moving the limbs. Another of the simplest symptoms to identify is the deformation of the fingers (usually of the feet), while fatigue, loss of reflexes, difficulty breathing and chest pains, are also part of the symptoms that they can be experienced in friedreich’s ataxia.
As it is a disorder that degenerates the nervous system , it is extremely difficult to find an effective cure. However, as has been well mentioned, it is possible to resort to certain types of treatments, in order to reduce the symptoms caused by such a problem.
It usually attacks individuals who are 2 to 4 years old, this because it is caused by viral diseases , among which are chickenpox, the ECHO virus, and Coxsackie disease. However, there are other problems that cerebellar ataxia can cause , being stroke, multiple sclerosis and brain bleeding, the most frequent.
The symptoms of this problem are usually the imbalance and lack of coordination of a part of the body, in addition, the involuntary movement of the eyes is also usually frequent in this type of case.
On the other hand, treatments for this type of ataxia usually offer a greater probability of cure, since it is possible to resort to surgeries, antibiotics, steroids and other drugs, in order to stop the problem.
It is one of the types of ataxia that strikes infants, however, ataxia telangiectasia is very rare . This disorder is one of the most complicated, as it degenerates brain cells, as well as causes a weak immune system . In addition, it increases the risk of developing cancer, which is usually leukemia or lymphoma.
Among the symptoms that usually occur in patients with ataxia telangiectasia are imbalance, difficulty speaking, vulnerability to infections, and dilation of the ocular capillaries, that is, the blood vessels in the eyes dilate.
Because this ataxia does not have any kind of cure and it is very difficult to control it , generally patients who suffer from this problem do not exceed 30 years of age; their life must be controlled to a great extent and they need the use of a wheelchair, as well as other orthopedic equipment.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.