Ataxia is the failure of muscle control in their arms and legs, resulting in reduced balance, co-ordination and disturbed gait. Disorders resulting in ataxia cause degeneration or atrophy of the cerebellum. Friedreich’s ataxia is caused by progressive damage to the nervous system. Machado-Joseph disease is a hereditary ataxia resulting from the degeneration of cells in the cerebellum, brainstem and spinal cord.
Symptoms of Friedreich’s ataxia: difficulty walking, clubfoot, foot inversion, hammertoes, rapid involuntary movements of the eyeball, curved spine, chest pain, shortness of breath and palpitations.
Symptoms of Machado-Joseph disease: weakness in the arms and legs, spasticity, a lurching gait, difficulty with speech and swallowing, involuntary eye movements, abnormal posture, sustained muscle contractions, twitching of the face and tongue, bulging eyes, double vision and frequent urination.
Who to consult: Dietician, GP, herbalist, homoeopath, naturopath, physiotherapist, physical therapist.