Facts and Statistics- Ataxia

Ataxia is a rare disorder that affects both children and adults. I was quite surprise to find that very little statistics have been conducted on ataxia. this may be due to the understanding that Ataxia is not a specific disorder, rather, a condition can cause ataxia including multiple sclerosis, head trauma, cerebral palsy and infections.

Ataxia affects a child’s coordination, balance and speech while some children are born with ataxia as a result of genetics, others develop it in a progressive matter. Signs and symptoms of Acute Cerebellar Ataxia include:

  • Frequent stumbling
  • Impaired coordination affecting arms or legs
  • Unsteady gait
  • Uncontrolled eye movement
  • Difficulty performing fine motor task
  • headaches

The following are facts and statistics on the Ataxia disorder:

  • It is a degenerative disease of the nervous system
  • Symptoms, often mimic being drunk in adults such as slurred speech
  • Age of symptom can vary from childhood to late adulthood
  • rare recessive genetic disorder
  • occurs between 1 out of 40,000 and 1 out of 100,000
  • The word ataxia refers to clumsiness or a loss of balance and coordination
  • The ataxia gene was first identified in 1993
  • Ataxia is inherited
  • Ataxia is a sign of an underlying disorder
  • It is caused by damage to different areas of the central nervous system
  • The most common symptom in children is an unsteady gait
  • In some cases, ataxia can present itself rapid while in others, it is progressive.
  • The most common cause of acute ataxia in children are excessive drug ingestion and drug intoxications
  • There are from 50 to 100 different types of Ataxia.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

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February 13th is the first day of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Awareness Week. Here are some facts on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy:

  • It is one of the nine types of muscular dystrophies
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy was first described by French neurologist, Guillaune Benjamin Amand Duchenne in the 1860’s.
  • It is an inherited disorder
  • It is caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that bonds the muscle cell
  • It is characterized by progressive muscle degeneration
  • It occurs in about 1 out of every 3,600 male infants
  • Risks include a family history of Duchenne muscular dystrophy
  • Symptoms start appearing between the ages of 3-5.
  • By the age of 12, most males affected may lose their ability to walk
  • Breathing difficulties and heart disease usually start by the age of 20
  • Very rare are females affected by the disease.
  • Early symptoms include muscle weakness in the hips, pelvic area, thighs and shoulders.
  • By teen years, the heart and respiratory muscles are affected.
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy carriers are females with one normal dystrophin gene on one x chromosome and an abnormal dystrophin gene on the other x chromosome
  • Most carriers do not show any signs or symptoms.
  • Affected children may have delayed motor skills including sitting, standing and walking.
  • Survival into the early 30’s is becoming more common due to advances in cardia and respiratory care.
  • Duchenne is associated with a heart disease that weakens the cardiac muscle
  • Between 400 and 600 boys in the United States are born with these conditions each year.
  • there are a few cases which results from new mutations in affected males
  • steroid drugs can slow the loss of muscular strength
  • There is no known cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy