A to Z: Cerebellar Ataxia

A to Z: Cerebellar Ataxia

A to Z: Cerebellar Ataxia

Cerebellar ataxia is loss of muscle coordination caused by disease or injury to the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the area of the brain responsible for coordinating voluntary muscles and maintaining balance.

cerebellum illustration

More to Know

People of all ages can have cerebellar ataxia. In children 3 years old or younger, it's most often caused by viruses and has only short-term effects. For adults, cerebellar ataxia is usually the result of head trauma or an infection or disease of the cerebellum. Alcohol abuse, medications, and exposure to toxic chemicals can also cause cerebellar ataxia.

People with cerebellar ataxia may have trouble walking, speaking, sitting still, or keeping their hands steady. They may also have uncoordinated or repetitive eye movement. Symptoms can be sudden and brief (acute) or can occur slowly and be long-lasting (chronic). Cerebellar ataxia can come and go or get progressively worse over time.

Treatment of cerebellar ataxia is based on the underlying problem that caused it.

Keep in Mind

While some people will have permanent symptoms of cerebellar ataxia, many patients can be treated with medication or surgery with good outcomes. When caused by viral infections, cerebellar ataxia usually doesn't require treatment and most people will recover fully within a few months.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.





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OrganizationCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The mission of the CDC is to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. Call: (800) CDC-INFO
OrganizationNational Institutes of Health (NIH) NIH is an Agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and offers health information and scientific resources.
OrganizationAtaxia-Telangiectasia Children's Project The A-T Children's Project raises funds to accelerate research aimed at finding a cure and improving the lives of children with ataxia-telangiectasia. This website contains information for parents about the disease and how it is treated.
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