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International Ataxia Awareness Day: Ataxia Symptoms
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International Ataxia Awareness Day: Ataxia Symptoms

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Highlights:

  • The theme for this year’s International Ataxia Awareness Day on 25th September is – Ataxia Symptoms
  • The National Ataxia Foundation is a leading US-based organization dedicated to increasing awareness about the neurological condition
  • Its campaign slogan is: Stumble Onto Ataxia

The International Ataxia Day is observed on 25th September by the National Ataxia Foundation (NAF) based in the United States and other organizations to raise awareness about the group of neurological disorders that affects around 150,000 people in the United States alone. The Campaign slogan is Stumble Onto Ataxia and the theme this year is - Ataxia Symptoms.

With this year's theme, the NAF plans to improve awareness about the symptoms of the ataxia so that more people are aware of and can recognize the condition, and therefore, can suggest appropriate medical help to those in need.

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In addition to improving awareness among the general public, the organizers also hope that the awareness will help to increase the confidence of patients affected by the condition. An increased awareness among physicians will also aid in the diagnosis of cases that could otherwise be missed. It also hopes to inspire the medical fraternity, researchers as well as the governments of various countries to take steps to find a cure for ataxia.

You could join in increasing awareness about ataxia either online through social media, or by participating in activities organized in your community for the purpose.

About Ataxia

  Ataxia is a degenerative neurological condition, or rather a group of conditions, that can affect individuals of any age, sometimes even children. It affects a part of the brain called the cerebellum, which is responsible for balance and coordination. The symptoms usually worsen with time, sometimes slowly but sometimes quickly.
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Conditions under ataxia include:
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia
  • Episodic Ataxia
  • Friedreich's Ataxia
  • Multiple System Atrophy
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxia
  • Sporadic Ataxia
The symptoms of ataxia include the following:
  • Poor balance and a tendency to stumble during walking
  • Speech becomes slurred. Eating and swallowing are also affected
  • Fine motor skills are affected with lack of coordination, as a result of which the person could appear clumsy to an inexperienced eye. The tremors may only make the symptoms worse.
  • The movements of the eyes may not be coordinated
  • Cognitive function may be affected
  • Assistive devices like wheelchair or walker may be required, while some forms of the disease may reduce life span. Patients may also suffer from depression due to their condition.
Ataxia usually has a genetic basis. It may run in families or appear without a family history. The ataxia gene could be inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, where the risk of an offspring being affected is 50% if one parent is affected, or autosomal recessive, where the chances of inheritance are less, and the appearance of symptoms can even skip generations. Genetic testing and genetic counseling may be advised for families with individuals with a genetic predisposition for ataxia.

There is no specific treatment for ataxia, though speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and sometimes medications are used to improve the symptoms.

The symptoms of ataxia can also occur in the presence of infections, injuries, cancer, stroke, intake of certain drugs or poisons, vitamin B12 deficiency, diabetes, problems with the inner ear and other conditions. An MRI may be useful in diagnosing some of these conditions. These conditions can be sometimes treated, often resulting in an improvement of symptoms.

Reference:

  1. Learn About Ataxia - (https://www.ataxia.org/international-ataxia-awareness-day/)
  2. Ataxia - (https://ataxia.org/)

Source: Medindia

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