What Is Ataxia

Ataxia is the lack of muscle control or coordination of voluntary movements, for example, picking things up or walking.  It can also affect balance, speech, and make it difficult to swallow.  While some people are born with the condition, others may develop it over time.  Ataxia can be the result of another condition like Multiple Sclerosis, a brain tumor, a head injury, excessive alcohol consumption, or Stroke.  There are three manifestations of this condition, which is a nervous system disorder that affects the cerebellum.  The three manifestations include cerebellar, sensory, and vestibular, and various types of Ataxia exist within these three manifestations.  Some may require mild remedies or more serious procedures. 

Signs Of Ataxia

A person suffering from Ataxia typically has a lack of control of certain muscle groups and functions, specifically in the way he/she walks.  Depending on the type of Ataxia one has and how it develops can dictate the symptoms one experiences.  The primary symptoms of Ataxia are listed below. 

  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills (writing, buttoning a shirt, picking something up, or eating)
  • Change in speech
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unsteady walk or constant stumbling
  • Poor limb coordination
  • Tremors
  • Cold feet (due to lack of muscle activity)
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Inability to judge distance or movement
What Causes Ataxia

Any degeneration, loss of nerve cells, or damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls muscle coordination, can result in Ataxia.  The cerebellum is comprised of two portions of folded tissue (about the size of two ping pong balls) and it is located at the base of the brain near the brainstem.  While the right side of the cerebellum controls coordination on the right side of the body, the left side controls coordination on the left side.  Diseases or injuries that damage the spinal cord or peripheral nerves that connect the cerebellum to muscles can also cause a person to develop Ataxia.  Other causes are listed below. 

  • Stroke
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Autoimmune diseases (Multiple Sclerosis, Sacroidosis, or Celiac Disease)
  • Tumor 
  • Toxic Reaction
  • Vitamin E or vitamin B-12 deficiency
  • Head trauma

Dherbs Approach...adjusting your diet is always key!

Natural Remedies
  • According to Ayurveda teachings, ashwagandha is a famed natural remedy for those with debilitating conditions.  Ashwagandha is a powerful herb with brain-boosting properties that help to improve the function of the central nervous system.  In addition to relieving anxiety and stress, ashwagandha can help the body handle certain disorders and almost change the way the chemistry between the brain and body to help remedy conditions like Ataxia. 
  • Physical therapy is a common recommendation for people with Ataxia, specifically because people with the condition have an awkward gait or muscle control issues.  A skilled physical therapist can help the person develop more control over his/her joints and limbs.  There are many exercises that work to improve muscle function and strengthen the nervous system.
  • Massage may be another physical remedy that can work in conjunction with physical therapy.  Ataxia can be the result of inflammation of the cerebellum or other parts of the central nervous system, which is why massage, concentrating on the head and neck, may help to decrease excess tension and inflammation.  Loosening the muscles and tissues in the head and neck may help those with Ataxia have better muscle control. 
  • It may seem miniscule, but turmeric is a powerful remedy that has an immunoprotective effect on the body.  It positively affects the brain and even works to naturally boost one's metabolism.  The active ingredient, curcumin, has been known to benefit the nervous system and boost memory and overall brain function. 
  • Those who suffer from physical symptoms of Ataxia may benefit from coordination exercises.  It is common for Ataxia patients to have difficulty writing or picking objects up, so it is recommended to visit and occupational therapist for the best advice.  Each person's symptoms will be different, but occupational therapists can help you can strengthen nervous system function and improve muscle memory/performance, especially the fine motor skills. 
  • Certain studies have revealed that being deficient in vitamin E may cause Ataxia.  Lack of vitamin E in the body can result in poor nervous system function.  Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that works to reduce oxidative stress in the body.  Some great vitamin E-rich foods include spinach, asparagus, mustard greens, sunflower seeds, and almonds. 
Things you should eat
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Mustard Greens
  • Raw Almonds
  • Raw Sunflower Seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Avocados
  • Potassium
  • Lemons
  • Chia Seeds
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fermented Vegetables
  • Spirulina
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