Ataxia Treatments

At Northwestern Medicine Ataxia Center, we work with clinicians who are experts and special training on ataxia. Our goal is to create a care plan for your specific needs to improve your quality of life.

Treatment of ataxia depends on the underlying cause. A specific treatment can be established when ataxia is caused by a medical or neurological disease such as:

  • Stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Vitamin E or vitamin B12 deficiency

When ataxia from genetic or unknown causes, there is no definitive cure. Clinical research is testing different compounds that may help slowing down the progression of ataxia. Some antioxidants include vitamin E and coenzyme Q10. In addition, researchers are testing some medication to use in same rare forms of genetic ataxias. These include zolpidem in SCA2, and acetazolamide and phenytoin in some types of episodic ataxia.

If you have ataxia, you can improve your quality of life by following a care plan to maximize your individual skills and overcome barriers and limitations.

We encourage people with ataxia to work with a physical therapist for gait training and to improve their strength and flexibility. A speech-language pathologist can help you improve communication if you have speech problems. Occupational therapists can help you stay as independent as possible. They can suggest home adjustments and strategies for self-care, feeding and other everyday activities.

Devices such as a cane, a walker or a wheelchair may help you, depending on how severe your symptoms are.

In addition, medications can relieve symptoms sometimes associated with ataxia such as:

  • Tremor
  • Stiffness
  • Spasticity
  • Balance problems


Related Resources



Quick Links

  • Ataxia: Find out more about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of ataxia
  • Friedreich's Ataxia: Read about the symptoms and treatment for this inherited degenerative disorder

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