A degenerative disease of the nervous system mimicking the symptoms of being drunk is termed Ataxia. Individuals affected by ataxia have slurred speech, stumbling, falling, and incoordination. These are caused due to the degeneration of the cerebellum which is responsible for coordinating movements. The following diseases are classified under the general term ataxia:

  • Ataxia Telangiectasia
  • Episodic Ataxia
  • Friedreich’s Ataxia
  • Multiple System Atrophy
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxia
  • Sporadic Ataxia

Lack of muscle control or coordination of voluntary movements, and creating difficulties in speech, eye movement, and swallowing are indicative of ataxia.

What are the Symptoms of Ataxia

Symptoms of ataxia vary between individuals. The symptoms might start slowly but then progress drastically over weeks or months. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble eating and swallowing
  • Eye movement abnormalities or nystagmus
  • Deterioration of fine motor skills
  • Difficulty walking
  • Tremors
  • Cardiovascular problems
What are the Causes of Ataxia

Damage or degeneration of the cerebellum causes ataxia. Some of the other causes of the condition include:

  • Head trauma, which is caused by the damage to the brain or spinal cord from a blow to the head
  • Stroke
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Infections like chickenpox and other viral infections leads to complications like ataxia
  • Paraneoplastic syndromes
  • Tumor of the cerebellum causes ataxia as a secondary condition
  • Toxic reactions that occur due to certain medications, such as barbiturates, leads to ataxia
  • Alcohol and drug intoxication
  • Different gene defects results in different types of ataxia
How is Ataxia Diagnosed

Ataxia is diagnosed by using various procedures. A medical history, family history, and a complete neurological evaluation can help diagnose ataxia. Various blood tests are performed to rule out other conditions. Blood tests are also available to detect ataxia caused by hereditary traits. A CT scan or an MRI show shrinkage of the cerebellum that happens in ataxia. A lumbar puncture to remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid is performed. This sample is sent to a lab to detect abnormalities relating to ataxia.

What is the Treatment for Ataxia

There is no cure for ataxia yet, though the symptoms can be managed using speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. These are used in conjunction with medications. Ataxia caused by multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy requires adaptive devices such as hiking sticks or walkers for walking and communication aids for speaking.

Stem Cells Therapy for Ataxia

Stem cells are endogenous cells that have the ability to regenerate into the required cell type. These stem cells are used for treating ataxia and its symptoms. Stem cells are combined with specialized therapies for treating ataxia and to treat the cause of the symptoms by promoting healing of the brain injury.

Therapy for Ataxia through stem cells by IV and lumbar puncture intervention can help to restore neurological function in the brain, thus improving the following:

  • Better balance and coordination
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Improved speech
  • Decreased tremors
  • Improved motor function
  • Better swallowing
  • Decreased neuropathic pain
  • Improved mental alertness

Thus, stem cells aid in providing nutrition to dying cells and the resulting revitalization of the cells help slow the disease’s progression.