You may have seen an alcoholic gait before. It’s the unsteady, staggering walk of a long-term alcoholic. The cause of the alcoholic gait is brain damage called alcoholic cerebellar ataxia. Ataxia refers to a loss of coordination, making it impossible to control various body movements. Anybody can develop ataxia-related problems that affecting normal speech, hand-eye coordination or the ability to perform any delicate hand motions.
What Is Ataxia?
What Is Cerebellar Ataxia?
Cerebellar ataxia is a symptom, not a distinct disorder. The cerebellum plays an essential role in human health. It coordinates the integration of sensory information, muscle movement, and body coordination. When the cerebellum is damaged, many symptoms may show up.
Signs of Cerebellar Ataxia
- reduced ability to accurately gauge the passing of time
- a general state of muscular looseness or floppiness
- loss of the coordination and effective use of the muscles and joints
- a reduced ability to control movement in the hands, feet and eyes
- a complete loss of the ability to make rapidly shifting body movements
If the disease progresses enough, these symptoms will look a lot like the stereotypical alcoholic gait.
What Causes Cerebellar Ataxia?
Alcoholism is not the only potential cause of cerebellar ataxia either. Causes include:
- chronic alcoholism
- viral infections
- multiple sclerosis
- use of certain medications
- pesticide exposure
- traumatic head injuries that produce bleeding in the brain