Treatment of ataxia depends on the underlying cause. When ataxia is secondary to a medical or neurological disease such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, hypothyroidism, Vitamin E or Vitamin B12 deficiency, a specific treatment can be instituted.
On the other hand, when ataxia is due to genetic or unknown causes, no definitive cure is available. Clinical research is currently underway to test different compounds that are potentially useful in slowing down the disease course such as some antioxidants (Vitamin E and Coenzyme Q10). In addition, some drugs are currently being tested for use in same rare forms of genetic ataxias (zolpidem in SCA2; acetazolamide and phenytoin in some types of episodic ataxia).
The quality of life of patients with ataxia can be significantly improved by adhering to a multidisciplinary management plan that is aimed at maximizing individual skills and overcome barriers and limitations. Patients are encouraged to work with a physical therapist for gait training and to improve strength and flexibility. A speech-language pathologist can be helpful to improve communication in patients with speech problems. Occupational therapists can help the individual retain as much independence as possible by suggesting home adjustments and strategies for self-care, feeding and writing.
Devices such as a cane, a walker or a wheel chair may also be useful, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
In addition, medications are available to relieve symptoms that are sometimes associated with ataxia such as tremor, stiffness, spasticity and balance problems.