Ataxia – What is does it mean?

Recently I had a patient that came into my clinic complaining of low back pain because she fell into a tub and hit her back against it – Reason is she suffers from an underdeveloped cerebellum.

The cerebellum is the portion of the brain that controls coordination, balance, voluntary motor movements, sense of position of the different parts of your body, equilibrium, and muscle tone.

Ataxia is the general term used in patients that suffer from lack of balance and coordination.  Ataxia (from Greek [order], meaning “lack of order”), is a neurological sign and symptom that consists of gross lack of coordination of muscle movements.

People who have this problem are more likely to initially come see me because they think that they are having joint issues or that they have a possible gait problem.  If after it is concluded that there is structural stability, an MRI can determine any issues dealing with the brain.


Gross motor co-ordination skills (large movements):

  • Poor balance. Difficulty in riding a bicycle, going up and down hills
  • Poor posture and fatigue. Difficulty in standing for a long time as a result of weak muscle tone. Floppy, unstable round the joints. Some people with dyspraxia may have flat feet
  • Poor integration of the two sides of the body. Difficulty with some sports involving jumping and cycling
  • Poor hand-eye co-ordination. Difficulty with team sports especially those which involve catching a ball and batting. Difficulties with driving a car
  • Lack of rhythm when dancing, doing aerobics
  • Clumsy gait and movement. Difficulty changing direction, stopping and starting actions
  • Exaggerated ‘accessory movements’ such as flapping arms when running
  • Tendency to fall, trip, bump into things and people

Fine motor co-ordination skills (small movements):

  • Lack of manual dexterity. Poor at two-handed tasks, causing problems with using cutlery, cleaning, cooking, ironing, craft work, playing musical instruments
  • Poor manipulative skills. Difficulty with typing, handwriting and drawing. May have a poor pen grip, press too hard when writing and have difficulty when writing along a line
  • Inadequate grasp. Difficulty using tools and domestic implements, locks and keys
  • Difficulty with dressing and grooming activities, such as putting on makeup, shaving, doing hair, fastening clothes and tying shoelaces


Not doing anything about it can lead to further injuries down the line. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call us today for a consultation and we can determine what the problem is. It could be something as simple as a misalignment in the spine or if you have something more serious such as scoliosis, or a cerebellum problem.



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