Acute Cerebellar Ataxia
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Acute cerebellar ataxia is a sudden problem with coordination and balance. It happens when the cerebellum is damaged. This is the part of the brain that controls these functions.
In some people, the cause is not known. It others, it may be due to genetics or:
This problem is more common in young children. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Recurrent acute cerebellar ataxia may be marked by periods of inactivity and flares. Things that may raise the risk of this are:
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. A neurological exam may also be done.
Blood tests may be done. The fluid around the brain and spinal cord may also be tested. This can be done with a lumbar puncture.
Images may be taken. This can be done with:
Nerve function may be tested. This can be done with a nerve conduction study.
The electrical activity of the muscles may be tested. This can be done with an electromyography (EMG).
Ataxia in children may go away on its own in a few months. In others, underlying causes of ataxia will need to be treated. This may include medicine to ease swelling in the brain.
Therapy may be also needed. Options are:
There are no current guidelines to prevent this health problem.
National Ataxia Foundation
National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Cerebellar ataxia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cerebellar-ataxia. Accessed January 22, 2021.
Cerebellar disorders. Patient website. Available at: https://patient.info/doctor/cerebellar-disorders. Accessed January 22, 2021.
Encephalopathy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Encephalopathy-Information-Page. Accessed January 22, 2021.
van Gaalen J, van de Warrenburg BP. A practical approach to late-onset cerebellar ataxia: putting the disorder with lack of order into order. Pract Neurol. 2012 Feb;12(1):14-24.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 1/22/2021