People who have ataxia have uncontrolled, uncoordinated movements in the way they walk, move their arms or eyes, or talk. If a person has these symptoms, they are said to have ataxia. Ataxia can have many different underlying causes.
- Non-genetic ataxia: These types of ataxia can be caused by diseases such as multiple sclerosis, strokes, brain tumors, heat stroke, or infections. Other types of non-genetic ataxia may be caused by exposure to alcohol, drugs, medicines, or other chemicals. Some types of non-genetic ataxias may be due to vitamin deficiencies or problems with the immune system. Doctors will often look for these non-genetic causes first because some types of non-genetic ataxia may be treatable.
- Hereditary ataxia: Hereditary means that the ataxia is caused by a change in the genetic instructions that tell our cerebellum how to work. These genetic changes can be passed through families. There are different types of hereditary ataxia:
o Autosomal recessive
- Sporadic ataxia: Sporadic means that there is no single genetic or environmental cause of the ataxia. Sporadic ataxias may be due to the interaction of many genetic risk factors with many environmental exposures. While we do not understand the causes of sporadic ataxias today, many people are working to understand the genetic risk factors and environmental exposures that can cause sporadic ataxia.