Facts and Truths About Ataxia

1993 marks the year when the first ataxia gene was identified. This was a dominantly inherited type of gene known as Spinocerebellar Ataxia type1 (SCA1). To date, 28 different gene mutations have been identified with the common type being Friedreich’s ataxia (FA).

Ataxia is usually classified into three groups based on the cause. The first type occurs in the younger stages of the patient. The second type normally occurs at the later stage in life, usually when the victim is 30 to 40 years old. The third type is associated with any sort of injury that causes trauma to the head such as multiple sclerosis, stroke or any other head related injuries.

When it comes to the different types of ataxia, there are at least 40 different types of this condition and as time progresses; more discoveries will continue to be made. Some of the commonly known types of this condition include: Gluten ataxia, Friedreich Ataxia, Post-infectious ataxia, Spinocerebellar ataxis (PCA), Paraneoplastic Cerebellargene Degeneration (PCD), Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP) among others.

How this condition came about is not clearly known. However, research findings indicate that there is an association between this disease and damages to the cerebellum. Since most of the reported cases of ataxia are inherited, it is believed that genes have a huge part to play on how this condition spreads.

According to research findings, it takes a double dose of ataxia gene for a person to become a victim of this disease. In short, a child may get ataxia as a result of both parents having been carriers of the ataxia gene and each of them passing it to the child (since a double dose is needed to enhance the disease).

Statistics indicate that a child of parents who are ataxia gene carriers stands a 25% chance of inheriting the two ataxia genes thus becoming affected by the disease, a 50% chance of inheriting only one ataxia gene thus becoming a carrier and a 25% chance of inheriting no gene. And considering the fact that there are no signs to indicate one is a carrier of this disease, a single recessive ataxia gene may be passed from generation to generation without being noticed.

In the early stage, how serious this condition can affect the victim depends on the age of onset of symptoms, type of ataxia as well as other factors that are not well understood at the moment. However, a failure to resolve this condition causes the muscles to become less and less responsive to brain commands. The nerve cells begin to fail in functionality and may end up degenerating.

As a result, other complications like poor balance while walking, clumsiness of the hands, abnormal eye movements as well as inability to run may crop up. Some people may end up conceding respiratory complications which can be fatal especially to a person who is bed ridden or who has difficulty swallowing. For those suffering from Friedreich’s Ataxia, serious cardiac problems may be the next hurdle to face.