Treatment and Care
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.
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 opened their accredited Specialist Ataxia Centres in London and Sheffield, and a Children's Centre also in Sheffield. There is also an Ataxia clinic in Oxford. 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.
Download our list of clinicians with an interest in ataxia to access more expertise around the UK. All clinicians included on this list are available through the NHS, and some also run private practises.
We are happy to send an information pack on how to care for people with ataxia to your GP. Please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your GP's address, if they would like to receive more information from us. Your healthcare professional can also join our Medical Registry, through which they'll receive an e-newsletter full of updates about new treatments and healthcare advice for ataxia.
Patients as well as their healthcare professionals have found our information pack very useful, as Catherine says:
"My GP received a folder with information on ataxia from you, and phoned to say thank you, and to specifically pass on to you how useful it is; he also told me that all the doctors were discussing ataxia and nothing else for a full hour! The surgery is a teaching practice, and he's asked if I can go along and be a teaching patient, to see if the students can diagnose ataxia!"