What is Acute Cerebellar Ataxia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Acute Cerebellar Ataxia?

Nervous system is mainly responsible for cognition, control and co-ordination, in which the cerebellum in responsible for balance and co-ordination. In acute cerebellar ataxia, the cerebellar gets damaged or infected, resulting in problems with coordinated activities. Ataxia is failure of the body to control one’s body movements because of the effect of some medication, infection, etc. It is important to understand acute cerebellar ataxia symptoms, its causes and treatment options.

Acute cerebellar ataxia may occur in the early phase of childhood because of various causes leading to loss or difficulty in co-ordination. Cerebellar ataxia may be reversible or non-reversible, which primarily depends upon the severity of the infection caused. If the problem is chronic, the effects of the disorder are long-lasting.

Lesions in cerebellum usually give rise to ataxia, thus, leading to the abnormalities which can be severe in some cases. In acute cerebellar ataxia, the cerebellar lesions, result in loss of muscle co-ordination and appropriate body movements. In acute conditions, there is sudden loss of muscle co-ordination, which may be severe. Usually, degeneration of cerebellum contributes to failure of coordinated muscle movement that eventually makes it impossible to walk properly.

Acute Cerebellar Ataxia

Causes of Acute Cerebellar Ataxia

There are several factors, which can cause nerve damage or damage to the cerebellum and make the muscle coordination very difficult. The causes and risk factors of acute cerebellar ataxia can be broadly categorized as,

  • Viral infections like chicken pox, etc.
  • Infections caused by bacteria, meningitis, etc.
  • Auto-immune disorders
  • Auto-immune disorders which can cause damage to the cerebellum known as Paraneoplastic syndromes
  • Genetic causes
  • Some injuries
  • Certain medications, vaccinations
  • Exposure to certain toxins can also cause acute cerebellar ataxia
  • Migraine or vertigo
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Brain tumor.

While some factors can be the cause of acute cerebellar ataxia, some factors can increase the risk in some people. It is also believed that another major cause of acute cerebellar ataxia could be disturbed blood supply to the cerebellum.

Symptoms of Acute Cerebellar Ataxia

  • The main symptoms of acute cerebellar ataxia show difficulty in coordinated movements and activities that require control of the body. The commonest symptoms include Lack of muscle co-ordination, more prominently while walking. The person suffering from acute cerebellar ataxia has a hard time walking in a proper way. This is more connected with the limbs and the trunk.
  • Clumsiness in performing daily activities is often seen and there may be difficulty in co-ordination while eating food.
  • Difficulty in speech is another common symptom of acute cerebellar ataxia
  • Persons with acute cerebellar ataxia may also have abnormal eye movements
  • May have light-headedness as well.

Posture is affected in most cases and is a common symptom of acute cerebellar ataxia, due to decreased tension in the muscles. The motor responses may be reduced that make the person to give delayed response to the situations when they arise. The overall movements and responses are not regular which can primarily affect the person’s quality of life.

In general, the person suffering from acute cerebellar ataxia may find it impossible to walk without support. Dysdiadochokinesia may also occur, which results in failure to perform rapid movements. The person may also suffer from the action tremors which can make it difficult to perform certain activities.

Treatment Options for Acute Cerebellar Ataxia

Treatment options for acute cerebellar ataxia mainly depend upon the causes and severity of the condition. CT scan, MRI and other imaging studies are done to assess the severity of the condition and the extent of brain damage. Spinal tap may be performed, if found appropriate. Based on this, treatment options for acute cerebellar ataxia can be planned. There are may be many treatment options which may include some medications as well as the surgeries. In acute conditions, certain medications can help.
Any medication found responsible for causing the condition of acute cerebellar ataxia may have to be stopped, as per medical advice. Any underlying injuries, tumors or other medical conditions, need to be treated appropriately.

Treatment options for acute cerebellar ataxia also includes antibiotics as well as the antiviral medicines, particularly in case of infections. Cerebellum also suffers from the inflammation that can be treated well with the help of the steroids. Acute cerebellar ataxia caused due to stroke may be treated with blood thinners. If ataxia is caused by some recent viral infection, treatment options for acute cerebellar ataxia may not include any medications and may be monitored till the viral infection subsides. This may take a long time from few weeks to few months in some cases.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 10, 2018

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