What is Ataxia?

Ataxia is a a degenerative disease of the nervous system that causes abnormal and uncoordinated movements. Ataxia can be acquired by damage to the cerebellum, the spinal cord and other nerves. It can also be a hereditary complication which you inherit from your family genetics. Ataxia can affect different areas of the central nervous system which varies the types of symptoms an individual will exhibit. The disease can affect the Cerebellar, Sensory, or Vestibular portions of the brain.

We’ll be discussing the different types of Ataxia, the symptoms, and treatment options available. If after reading through our resource page this sounds like something that you’re struggling with, contact us today for an assessment.

ottawa concussion clinic


ataxia therapy

What Are the Different Types of Ataxia?

Ataxia symptoms can vary based on where an individual has sustained damage to their central nervous system. It is commonly categorized by which specific part of the brain that is most affected by the degenerative disease:

Sensory Ataxia

Sensory Ataxia involves damage to the nerves in the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. With Sensory Ataxia, you receive less feedback from your brain which affects your perception of where your body is in relation to the ground – also referred to as proprioception.

Cerebellar Ataxia

The cerebellum is the portion of the brain that controls your sense of balance and coordination. Cerebellar Ataxia involves symptoms like: dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and muscle tremors.

Vestibular Ataxia

Vestibular Ataxia affects your vestibular system, which is heavily relied on with movements of your head and spatial orientation. With Vestibular Ataxia you might experience: blurred vision, vertigo, trouble walking in a straight line, and difficulties with standing or sitting.

What Causes Ataxia?

As mentioned earlier, Ataxia can either be acquired or hereditary. Acquired Ataxia can have a wide variety of potential causes, including:

  • Bacterial Brain Infections
  • Severe Head Injuries
  • Viral Infections
  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Brain Tumours
  • Strokes & Transient Ischaemic Attacks (TIA)

In terms of hereditary Ataxia, it can be inherited either your autosomal recessive genes, or autosomal dominant genes. Autosomal recessive means that you inherited the mutated gene from both parents, while autosomal dominant refers to developing the condition from either one of your mother or father.

Dr. Josephe O.M Lawrence at Broadview Health Centre
ataxia treatment appointment

Ataxia Treatment Options

Vision Therapy

Eye problems are common in cases of Ataxia. Vision therapy helps with focusing issues, eye movement problems, and visual processing speeds. Repetition and dedication to specific eye movements can have a significant impact on your vision. Learn more about our vision therapy services here.

Vestibular Rehabilitation

Vestibular rehabilitation is a form of physical therapy that can help combat muscle weakening associated with Ataxia. This treatment option can help with symptoms related to balance issues, motion disorders, and poor proprioception. Learn more about vestibular rehabilitation here.

There are other symptoms that these forms of treatment may not help, including: speech complications, fatigue, bladder problems, and depression. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and to book a consultation.

View our brain treatment options

Explore Treatments