Ataxia

Disease

Ataxia is a neurological disorder that can be caused by localized lesions in different motor or sensory regions of the central nervous system as well as pathologies of the peripheral nervous system. In general, problems with proprioception, the visual and vestibular system, the cerebellum or any problem in the interconnections between these systems can induce ataxia. Depending on the affected region, we speak of cerebellar, sensory or vestibular ataxia. Since control of voluntary movements relies on the integration of information from these systems, this is what brings about the characteristic symptoms of ataxia.

Symptoms

Although the most common definition of ataxia is an incoordination of movements, a more adequate definition would be an incoordination of movements as well as a disorder of equilibrium without muscular weakness. Specifically, patients may have abnormal walking and posture, incoordination in skilled movements, speech and swallowing disorders, and may experience fatigue.

In addition to motor symptoms and fatigue, there are a variety of other so-called non-motor symptoms that can afflict people with ataxia such as vision problems, cognitive impairment, and emotional problems such as depression, irritability, and anxiety. This being said, depending on the area(s) affected, there will be great variability in symptom presentation.

Exercise and Illness

Physical activity can help people with ataxia to improve and maintain their functional abilities. Indeed, exercise, like yoga and Tai Chi, make it possible to improve balance [1]. It has also been shown that different physical activities have positive effects on proprioception in people with ataxia [2]. In addition to better control of symptoms related to ataxia, physical activity helps to maintain autonomy by avoiding deconditioning linked to physical inactivity; which improves the ability to perform activities of daily living. Given the variability of the symptoms and their intensity, a personalized intervention by NeuroMotrix will allow you to obtain optimal results.

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Sources

[1] Hackney & Earhart (2008) Tai Chi improves balance and mobility in people with Parkinson disease. Gait Posture 28(3):456-60.

[2] Schalow G. (2006) Improvement after cerebellar injury achieved by coordination dynamics therapy. Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology 46(7-8):433-9.

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