Acute cerebellar ataxia is a disorder of the nervous system marked by the sudden onset of a disturbance in muscle coordination, especially in the trunk, arms, and legs.
The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination. It does not function properly in the case of cerebellar ataxia. Although the abnormality of the limbs is most often noticed, it can also cause abnormal eye movements. Nausea and vomiting may also occur as part of the disorder.
While it can occur at any age, acute cerebellar ataxia is most common in young children. It can occur several weeks after a viral infection, such as
. Most cases go away without treatment in a matter of months. However, recurrent or chronic progressive cerebellar ataxia does occur.
If you suspect you or your child has this condition, call the doctor right away.
These factors increase your chance of developing acute cerebellar ataxia. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
Childhood, especially three years of age or younger
Exposure to certain insecticides, drugs, or toxins
If you experience any of the following symptoms, do not assume it is due to acute cerebellar ataxia. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions, as well. If you experience any one of them, see your doctor:
Uncoordinated movements of the limbs or trunk
Clumsiness with daily activities
Difficulty walking (unsteadiness)
Speech disturbances with slurred speech and changes in tone, pitch, and volume
Abnormal eye movements
Accompanying symptoms may include:
Changes in mental state (such as personality or behavioral changes)
Chaotic eye movements
Clumsy speech pattern
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical and family history, and perform a physical exam. He will observe your limb coordination to assess the degree and nature of the ataxia.
—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the head
—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the head
Metabolic blood tests
Ultrasound—a test that uses sound waves to examine the head
Tests to detect other possible diseases that are causing the symptoms:
Nerve conduction study
—a test that measures the speed and degree of electrical activity in a nerve to determine if it is functioning normally
(EMG)—a test measures and records the electrical activity that muscles generate at rest and in response to muscle contraction
There is no treatment for acute cerebellar ataxia. Ataxia usually goes away without any treatment within a few months. In cases where an underlying cause is identified, your doctor will treat the that cause.
In extremely rare cases, you may have continuing and disabling symptoms. Treatment includes:
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a