Ataxia is a movement disorder caused by problems in the brain. When you have ataxia, you have trouble moving parts of your body the way you want. Or the muscles in your arms and legs might move when you don’t want them to. The word ataxia actually means “without coordination.”
Ataxia isn’t a disorder or a disease itself -- it’s a sign of other underlying disorders or diseases. Doctors have discovered anywhere from 50 to 100 different ataxias. They are grouped into categories based on what causes them, or based on which part of the body they affect.
Your cerebellum is the part of your brain that’s in charge of balance and coordination. If part of your cerebellum starts to wear away, you can develop cerebellar ataxia. Sometimes it can also affect your spinal cord. It’s the most common form of ataxia.
Symptoms of cerebellar ataxia include:
Sensory ataxia is the result of damage to nerves in your spinal cord or your peripheral nervous system. That is the part of your nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord.
When you have sensory ataxia, you have less sensation in your feet and legs from the nerve damage, so you have less feedback from your brain telling you where your body is in relation to the ground. It’s also called proprioceptive ataxia.
Symptoms of sensory ataxia include:
Vestibular ataxia affects your vestibular system. This system is made up of your inner ear and ear canals, which contain fluid. They sense the movements of your head and help with your balance and spatial orientation.
When the nerves in your vestibular system are affected, you can have the following problems:
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