Cerebellar ataxia

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Cerebellar ataxia
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 G11.1-G11.3
ICD-9 334.3
DiseasesDB 2218
MedlinePlus 001397
MeSH D002524

Cerebellar ataxia is a form of ataxia originating in the cerebellum.[1]


Cerebellar ataxia can occur as a result of many diseases and presents with symptoms of an inability to coordinate balance, gait, extremity and eye movements.[2] Lesions to the cerebellum can cause dyssynergia, dysmetria, dysdiadochokinesia, dysarthria and ataxia of stance and gait.[3] Deficits are observed with movements on the same side of the body as the lesion (unilaterally).[2] Clinicians often use visual observation of people performing motor tasks in order to look for signs of ataxia.[2]


There are many causes of cerebellar ataxia including direct injury, alcohol use, and genetic disease.

Misfunction of the sodium-potassium pump may be a factor in some cerebellar ataxias. The Na+
pump has been shown to control and set the intrinsic activity mode of cerebellar Purkinje neurons.[4] This suggests that the pump might not simply be a homeostatic, "housekeeping" molecule for ionic gradients; but could be a computational element in the cerebellum and the brain. Indeed, an ouabain block of Na+
pumps in the cerebellum of a live mouse results in it displaying ataxia and dystonia.[5] Ataxia is observed for lower ouabain concentrations, dystonia is observed at higher ouabain concentrations.

Considering nicotine's apparent protective effect on other parts of the brain, surprisingly nicotine is toxic to the cerebellum.

Associated morbidity[edit]

Damage to the cerebellum, particularly to the cerebrocerebellum area and the cerebellar vermis, is almost always associated with clinical depression and often with alcoholism. In recent years the cerebellum's role has been observed as not purely motor. It is intimately combined with intellect, emotion and planning.


It is widely thought, incorrectly, that cerebellar ataxia is untreatable.

However, it can be ameliorated to varying degrees by means of Frenkel exercises.

Also, research using Transcranial direct-current stimulation (TCDCS) and Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) shows promising results.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cerebellar ataxia". BBC News. 2004-11-30. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  2. ^ a b c Ferrarin M, Gironi M, Mendozzi L, Nemni R, Mazzoleni P, Rabuffetti M (May 2005). "Procedure for the quantitative evaluation of motor disturbances in cerebellar ataxic patients". Med Biol Eng Comput 43 (3): 349–56. doi:10.1007/BF02345812. PMID 16035223. 
  3. ^ Diener HC, Dichgans J (1992). "Pathophysiology of cerebellar ataxia". Mov. Disord. 7 (2): 95–109. doi:10.1002/mds.870070202. PMID 1584245. 
  4. ^ Forrest MD, Wall MJ, Press DA, Feng J (December 2012). "The Sodium-Potassium Pump Controls the Intrinsic Firing of the Cerebellar Purkinje Neuron". PLoS ONE 7 (12): e51169. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051169. PMC 3527461. PMID 23284664. 
  5. ^ Calderon DP, Fremont R, Kraenzlin F, Khodakhah K (March 2011). "The neural substrates of rapid-onset Dystonia-Parkinsonism". Nature Neuroscience 14 (3): 357–65. doi:10.1038/nn.2753. PMC 3430603. PMID 21297628.