Acute cerebellar ataxia Definition
Acute cerebellar ataxia is sudden,
uncoordinated muscle movement due to disease or injury to the cerebellum in the brain.
Cerebellar ataxia; Ataxia - acute cerebellar; Cerebellitis; Post-varicella acute cerebellar ataxia; PVACA
Acute cerebellar ataxia in children, especially younger than age 3, may occur several weeks after an illness caused by a virus.
Viral infections that may cause this include
chickenpox, Coxsackie disease, Epstein-Barr, and echovirus.
Other causes of acute cerebellar ataxia include:
Abscess of the cerebellum
Alcohol, medications, and insecticides
Bleeding into the cerebellum
Strokes of the cerebellum
Ataxia may affect movement of the middle part of the body from the neck to the hip area (the trunk) or the arms and legs (limbs).
When the person is sitting, the body may move side-to-side, back-to-front, or both. Then the body quickly moves back to an upright position.
When a person with ataxia of the arms reaches for an object, the hand may sway back and forth.
Common symptoms of ataxia include:
Clumsy speech pattern ( dysarthria)
Repetitive eye movements ( nystagmus)
Uncoordinated eye movements
Walking problems (unsteady gait) Exams and Tests
The doctor will ask if the person has recently been sick and will try to rule out any other causes of the problem. Brain and nervous system examination will be done to identify the areas of the nervous system that are most affected.
The following tests may be ordered:
Treatment depends on the cause:
If the acute cerebellar ataxia is due to bleeding, surgery may be needed.
For a stroke, medicine to thin the blood can be given.
Infections may need to be treated with antibiotics or antivirals.
Steroids may be needed for swelling (inflammation) of the cerebellum (such as from multiple sclerosis)
Cerebellar ataxia caused by a recent viral infection may not need treatment. Outlook (Prognosis)
People whose condition was caused by a recent viral infection should make a full recovery without treatment in a few months. Strokes, bleeding, or infections may cause permanent symptoms.
In rare cases, movement or behavioral disorders may persist.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if any symptoms of ataxia appear.
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Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, SUNY Stony Brook, School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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