Although there is currently no cure for ataxia, there are a number of treatments available to help with the symptoms people experience.

Medications are available, for example; for muscle spasms, tremors, bladder problems, abnormal eye movements and depression. Cardiac problems seen in Friedreich’s ataxia are also treatable. Certain types of therapy can also help. Here you can find resources  that help manage your symptoms and further explain ataxia to your healthcare professionals.

Healthcare

If you want to access information on the diagnosis and management of ataxia, you can find it in the Ataxia Medical Guidelines. This document was produced by Ataxia UK in collaboration with many ataxia specialists and is aimed at healthcare professionals (eg: neurologists, therapists and other doctors). You can download a copy to take to your doctors, or contact the Ataxia UK Helpline for a printed copy. 

We also have produced a summary of the Ataxia Guidelines aimed at GPs (also published in Guidelines, an online resource which summarises clinical guidelines for primary care.)

We recommend that people with progressive ataxia be seen regularly by a neurologist (at least annually), who can monitor the condition and provide help with any new problems that may have emerged. It also provides an opportunity to hear about any new medical advances.

Ataxia UK have also opened their accredited Specialist Ataxia Centres throughout the UK. Specialist neurologists and nurses who have expertise in ataxia hold appointments with people with ataxia, as well as conduct research towards finding treatments and cures. You'll need a referral from your GP or neurologist to attend. 

Therapies for ataxia 

Physiotherapy and exercise such as swimming may prevent loss of strength and preserve mobility. A speech and language therapist can help with problems involving swallowing and if speech is becoming slurred. If needed, communication aids, such as some computer programmes can be recommended.

An occupational therapist can also be helpful, for example with home adaptations, teaching strategies for daily activities or wheelchair assessments. Ask for a referral from your GP or neurologist to access these services.

Support

Many people with ataxia say it really helps them to meet other people with the condition and realise they're not alone. Ataxia UK’s network of local Branches and Support Groups helps by running events, trips, fun activities, and by providing the opportunity to meet up and socialise. Others keep in touch with one another through our online health community forum (Health Unlocked) or virtual support groups.

Ataxia UK's policies and procedure

At Ataxia UK, we are always looking for ways that we can campaign to help improve the healthcare and treatment of people with ataxia. Here you can read about our policy and campaigning work.

We often get asked about our position on stem cell therapy, and you can read our statement on stem cell therapy here.  An interesting article on stem cell therapy treatments was recently published in Neurology Now, highlighting some of the concerns around unlicensed stem cell therapy treatments.