Ataxia is an umbrella term for a group of neurological disorders that affect balance, coordination and speech. Some types of ataxia such as Friedreich's ataxia and the Spinocerebellar ataxias are inherited, meaning they are caused by genes passed on by parents to their children. When ataxia is not inherited there can be a number of different causes, identified (brain damage, diet, drug side effects) or not (idiopathic).

To find out more information on the ataxias, please take a look at our 'Ataxia: what's that?' booklet.

To find out information on specific types of ataxia, please click on the specific type below.

If you cannot find the information that you are looking for here, you can call our helpline on 0845 644 0606 or email [email protected]

Types of ataxia

Friedreich's ataxia is the most common form of ataxia, and is characterized by an inherited mutation in the frataxin (FXN) gene leading to reduced levels of frataxin, a protein essential for life and cell survival.

Spinocerebellar ataxias (also called SCA's) are caused by mutations in different genes. For example, spinocerebellar ataxia 1 is linked to a default in the gene SCA1. For more information on the different types of Spinocerebellar ataxias, see below:

Spinocerebellar ataxia 1 (SCA1)

Spinocerebellar ataxia 2 (SCA2)

Spinocerebellar ataxia 3 (SCA3)

Spinocerebellar ataxia 6 (SCA6) You can also view an illustrated leaflet on SCA6 kindly provided by Health Press Limited

Spinocerebellar ataxia 7 (SCA7)

Spinocerebellar ataxia 11 (SCA11)


Dentatorubral pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA) is a type of inherited progressive late-onset cerebellar ataxia. It is characterised by a defect in a gene that causes damage to a certain part of the brain, the cerebellum.

Episodic Ataxia is characterised as bouts or attacks of ataxia symptoms.

Gluten ataxia is caused by a sensitivity to the protein gluten found in wheat products. It is one of the most common forms of sporadic idiopathic ataxia (where ataxia is found in people with no family history of ataxia and no known cause). You can find more information on Gluten ataxia research here.