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UT Southwestern Medical Center’s movement disorder experts are dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of ataxia, as well as the neurological diseases and syndromes associated with ataxia.

Our physicians evaluate and treat hundreds of patients every year to help them prevent and manage complications that ataxia can cause.

Experts in Ataxia and All Movement Disorders

Ataxia is a sign of dysfunction in the cerebellum – the part of the brain that controls balance and muscle coordination. It’s not a single disease but a symptom of various conditions affecting the brain and nervous system.

Our experts are fellowship-trained in movement disorders and specialize in leading-edge care to treat ataxia.

Because of the complexity of ataxia, our team evaluates the most appropriate options for each patient to treat symptoms:

  • For some cases, we treat the underlying causes of the disorder to improve the condition or prevent it from getting worse.
  • Some ataxias, such as those caused by infections, might be temporary and get better on their own.
  • Some types might be related to something as simple as a vitamin deficiency and can be treated by taking a daily supplement.

Symptoms of Ataxia

People with ataxia experience difficulty with coordination, such as problems using their fingers, hands, arms, or legs; walking; speaking; or moving their eyes.

Ataxia can develop as a result of damage to cells in the cerebellum over time, or it can come on suddenly. This neurological condition can cause problems throughout the body such as:

  • Poor coordination
  • Unsteady gait or walk, or a tendency to stumble
  • Difficulty with fine motor tasks, such as eating, writing, fastening buttons, or typing
  • Difficulty with speech or swallowing
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Changes in behavior or personality

Our Services

Because ataxia isn’t a single disease, finding the cause can be challenging. We diagnose ataxia based on a person's medical and family history, along with a complete neurological examination to determine if there are signs of cerebellar disease. Learn how we evaluate patients for ataxia.

We focus our treatments on managing the underlying conditions that are causing the ataxia. Treatment options include:

  • Medications
  • Speech therapy
  • Genetic counseling
  • Physical therapy

We develop a care plan specific to each patient’s symptoms. Learn more about treatments we offer.