Ataxia is characterized by unsteady movements or inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movements. The following article provides information on the symptoms of this condition.
Ataxia is described as a lack of muscle coordination during voluntary movements. The affected person might face difficulty while walking, talking, picking up objects, etc. If the eyes are affected, involuntary back-and-forth eye movements might be observed. In case of damage to the cerebellum, lack of muscle coordination during voluntary movements might persist.
Symptoms in Human Beings
The symptoms of ataxia might vary, depending on the part of the body that have been affected. The affected individual exhibits poor coordination and faces great difficulty while performing tasks such as writing, eating, putting a thread in a needle, making a tie, and other fine-motor skills. The person’s gait might suddenly become unsteady and he/she may develop a tendency to fall. Apart from the aforementioned symptoms, one might face difficulty in swallowing food or water.
Symptoms in Animals
The disease in dogs or cats causes symptoms similar to those in case of humans. Wobbliness, buckling leg joints, staggering gait, goose gait, lack of coordination, a tilted head carriage, standing with legs far apart, tripping, making strange and exaggerated jumps, moving around in circles, motion sickness, falling and collapsing, etc., are some of the common symptoms that are observed in cats, dogs, and other animals. Horses might tumble or develop a disturbed course of motion due to lack of muscle coordination.
There’s no specific treatment for this condition. The symptoms might resolve on treating the underlying condition. In some cases, the condition may get resolved on its own. For instance, if ataxia has been caused due to chickenpox or any other viral infections, then there is a possibility that it will subside on its own over time.
However, in cases where the underlying cause is multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, or any condition that may not be treatable, patients would need to use canes, walkers, modified utensils for eating, and communication aids for speaking. Patients might also benefit from taking up physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
Even in animals, addressing the underlying cause would help in managing the symptoms. As a pet owner, best you can do is to take your pet to a vet at the earliest on observing lack of muscle coordination during voluntary movements. The use of adaptive devices and drug therapy might help affected pets as well.
The importance of support from family for people affected by such an ailment can never be undermined. Family members must take steps to help the affected person cope, and improve his/her quality of life. Getting help from counselors will also prove beneficial.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.