Incoordination and clumsiness that affects balance and gait, limb or eye movements, and/or speech. Ataxia may be caused by damage to the cerebellum or to nerve pathways in the brainstem and spinal cord. Possible causes include injury to the brain or spinal cord. In adults, ataxia may be caused by alcohol intoxication, a stroke or a brain tumour affecting the cerebellum or the brainstem, a disease of the balance organ in the ear, or multiple sclerosis or other types of nerve degeneration. In children, causes include acute infection, brain tumours, and the inherited condition Friedreich’s ataxia. Symptoms of ataxia depend on the site of damage, although a lurching, unsteady gait is common to most forms. In addition, damage to certain parts of the brain may cause nystagmus and slurred speech. CT scanning or MRI may be used to determine the cause of ataxia. Treatment of the condition depends on the cause.


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