Donate to Ataxia Research, Patient Care and Education

Ataxia is a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system. Slurred speech, stumbling and falling are symptoms of ataxia. Degeneration of cells the brain’s cerebellum results in lack of coordination and balance. These symptoms can manifest over weeks or decades and can affect both children and adults. Trouble eating, tremors, eye twitches and loss of spinal function can result in full immobility and might cause an individual to need to use a wheelchair or a walker.

By making a donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you will help the dedicated physician-scientists at Northwestern Medicine to further advance vital research in the realm of ataxia, and to continue to provide exceptional patient care to people affected by this challenging disease. The Ataxia Clinic at Northwestern Medicine offers access to leading-edge treatment, provided by a multidisciplinary team comprising neurologists, geneticists, psychiatrists, physical therapists and other specialists.

There are three primary types of ataxia: (1) hereditary or genetic ataxia, (2) sporadic ataxia and (3) secondary ataxia. Hereditary ataxia is a genetic disorder that can manifest at a young age or emerge later in life. Sporadic ataxia emerges and dissipates over time, while secondary ataxia can be a result of surgeries or exposures to certain chemicals, infections or medications. The most prevalent symptoms of ataxia include walking with an unsteady gait, difficulty balancing and frequent falls, as well as wider gaits and poor coordination, slurred speech and problems with fine motor skills. While each of these symptoms alone does not necessarily indicate ataxia, physicians recommend that a person undergo a full physical examination if he or she is experiencing any of these symptoms.

The specialists at Northwestern Medicine are able to diagnose ataxia using multidisciplinary strategies. The first steps in diagnosing ataxia involve taking a patient’s medical history and family history into account, and performing a full neurological exam. A variety of blood tests, including genetic blood tests, may be ordered, as well. These findings, along with results from brain imaging studies, enable physicians to make an accurate diagnosis.

Ataxia Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

With the support of donors like you, the experts at Northwestern Medicine are able to offer a full array of diagnostic testing to pinpoint the level of ataxia present. While there is no cure for ataxia, there are numerous options available to curb symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. By making a donation to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you will be a part of great progress and new breakthroughs that will benefit countless patients affected by ataxia who seek care at Northwestern Medicine.

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