What is ataxia?

Ataxia is the name given to a group of neurological disorders that affect balance, coordination, and speech. There are many different types of ataxia that can affect people in different ways.

Who gets ataxia?

Anyone of any age can get ataxia, but certain types are more common in certain age groups. For example, people with Friedreich’s ataxia are usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence.

How many people have ataxia?

The ataxias are rare conditions. Estimates from recent studies say that there are at least 10,000 adults and around 500 children in the UK with a progressive ataxia.

Is there any cure?

Some forms of ataxia are treatable, but in most cases there is still no cure. We are supporting research and putting all our efforts in trying to get treatments or cures for the ataxias. See our Research strategy for more information.

What can be done to help?

Join Ataxia UK free of charge and make use of our services and support. We will keep you up to date with the latest research news and tips on living with ataxia. You can join our local support groups, come to our events and much more.

You can read about different aspects of living with ataxia on our Living with ataxia page. You can also support us by making a donation, taking out a direct debit, leaving us a gift in your will, or raising money for us.

What causes ataxia?

There are many different causes for ataxia. It's important to remember that ataxia is a symptom and may occur as a result of many different underlying conditions (such as MS). It can also occur due to head trauma or intoxication. Many ataxias are inherited conditions and caused by having defects in certain genes. Read more about this in our 'Ataxia: what's that?' leaflet. The most common inherited progressive ataxia is Friedreich’s ataxia. Research is ongoing to identify other genes which cause inherited cerebellar ataxias and discover how they exert their effects. However there are still many people who do not have a specific diagnosis for their inherited ataxia. These people would be diagnosed as having idiopathic cerebellar ataxia and there are many researchers focusing on finding new genes and new types of ataxias. Keep up to date with the latest developments in our research section.