Friday, 9 September 2011

Ataxia

Level 1

Ataxia means unsteadiness of gait.

Ataxia is also used to describe chaotic or in-coordinated limb movements; I don't like it being used in this context.  

There are two types of ataxia; sensory and cerebellar. 

I view vestibular ataxia as being cerebellar, as the circuits involved are functionally integrated.

Romberg's test is used to distinguish between the two types; a positive Romberg's test or Rombergism (increased body sway) is diagnostic of a sensory ataxia. 



Sensory ataxia occurs as a result of a larger fibre peripheral neuropathy, dorsal root ganglionopathy, posterior radiculopathy (sensory roots) and posterior column disease. 

Tendon reflexes are lost with a neuropathy, ganglionopathy and radiculopathy, but not with pure posterior column syndromes. 

Please remember that ataxias are often mixed, i.e. both cerebellar and sensory. Examples of this are the spinocerebellar ataxias and multiple sclerosis, which can affect both the cerebellum and spinal cord.

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