Specialists and Care Centers
Ataxia Specialists and Care Centers
Northwestern Memorial Hospital is a designated Ataxia Foundation Center of Excellence. As a Center of Excellence, we can address all aspects of clinical care for patients with ataxia and its associated symptoms. Directed by Puneet Opal, MD, PhD, the Northwestern Medicine Ataxia Center uses provides a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to the diagnosis and management of ataxia. We work with experts in neurology, nursing, genetics, social work and psychiatry. The center also raises awareness through outreach events and participates in clinical and translational research.
The Ataxia Center offers state-of-the-art facilities and technology to diagnose and care for patients with ataxia. We evaluate patients for acquired and genetic causes through clinical exams, lab testing and imaging.
Northwestern Medicine is a member of the Clinical Research Consortium for the Study of Cerebellar Ataxias, a research consortium funded by the National Ataxia Foundation. In this, scientists closely monitor people with ataxia to better understand the disease. In addition, people with ataxia can participate in clinical studies to evaluate potential treatments. These studies are closely connected with the research on cerebellar disorders at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
To find out more about the research at Feinberg School of Medicine, click here.
You will first meet with a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders. Based on this evaluation, the physician will recommend procedures such as blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other diagnostic tests.
After the initial assessment and diagnostic work-up, we will use a team approach. Your neurologist at the Ataxia Center will work with:
- Genetic counselors
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Speech therapists
- Social workers
Together, they will make a customized care plan to address your concerns and needs.
We will give you educational material and contact information for support groups.
Basic and clinical research is the best way to improve our understanding of ataxia causes. The goal of research is to find new treatment options. The physicians at the Ataxia Center conduct basic lab and clinical research projects.
If you have ataxia, you can help by donating a small blood sample at the Ataxia Center. Scientists will use these samples to learn more about hereditary forms of ataxia.