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(ətăk`sēə), lack of coordination of the voluntary muscles resulting in irregular movements of the body. Ataxia can be brought on by an injury, infection, or degenerative disease of the central nervous system, e.g., syphilis, encephalitis, brain tumor, or multiple sclerosis. The term also designates a specific type of cerebral palsycerebral palsy
, disability caused by brain damage before or during birth or in the first years, resulting in a loss of voluntary muscular control and coordination. Although the exact cause is unknown, apparent predisposing factors include disease (e.g.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a disturbance in the coordination of voluntary movements. The coordination of a number of muscle groups, which in turn depends on the activity of many parts of the brain (cerebellum, cortex, and so forth), is required for the proper and precise execution of movements and for the maintenance of balance in various body positions. Impulses from muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments travel via the posterior columns of the spinal cord to the brain. Signals from the semicircular canals of the inner ear are very important for the coordination of movements.

Ataxia appears when there is a disease in one or more of the links in this system. Autonomic, cerebellar, frontal, and labyrinthic ataxias are distinguished according to the site of the condition. Static ataxia (disruption of balance when the person is standing) and locomotor ataxia (actual disruption of the coordination of movement) are distinguished according to clinical manifestations. Sensory ataxia is observed in disease of the peripheral nerves or of the posterior columns of the spinal cord. When the patient stands with his feet together and his eyes closed, his torso begins to sway. His gait is disrupted, and he moves slowly, looking at his feet and casting them far out to either side. In cerebellar ataxia (which affects the connections or structures of the cerebellum) the patient uses excessive space to execute movements; for example, in trying to touch an object, he brings his arm out too far (hypermetria). His speech loses coherence—he speaks loudly, then softly, dividing his words into syllables (scanning). When rising from a lying to a standing position without using his hands, the patient raises his legs instead of his torso. His gait resembles that of an inebriate. Frontal ataxia, which occurs with the disruption of frontal-cerebellar pathways, is similar to cerebellar ataxia in its manifestations. Labyrinthic ataxia is manifested in severe dizziness and horizontal nystagmus. The treatment of ataxia consists of eliminating the fundamental disease with which it is associated, doing therapeutic exercise, and aiding in the restoration of proper coordination of movement.


Mnogotomnoe rukovodstvo po nevrologii, vol. 7. Edited by S. N. Davidenkov. Moscow, 1960. Page 217.
Davidenkov, S. N. Klinicheskie lektsii po nervnym bolezniam, issue 4. Leningrad, 1961.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Lack of muscular coordination due to any of several nervous system diseases.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


, ataxy
Pathol lack of muscular coordination
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Following these symptoms, ataxic gait, dysarthria, dysphagia, and diplopia can develop.
On June 23, 2011, a repeated MRI showed significant improvement in the contrast-enhancing lesions in the pons (Figure 4, B and D); however, the patient continued to have complaints of a glovelike paresthesia and had an ataxic gait. Methotrexate 15 mg weekly was initiated to accompany prednisone 20 mg every other day.
She had ataxic gait and bilateral retinal hemorrhages.
The typical ataxic gait is lurching and unsteady, like that of a drunk person, with feet widely placed.
One difference is that these symptoms rarely occur singularly and are often accompanied by autonomic involvement, such as orthostatic hypotension, or cerebellar involvement, such as ataxic gait. Further, the classic pill-rolling rest tremor is rarely present in MSA.
Three days later he presented to the emergency department of the medical center complaining of severe occipital headache, slurred speech, ataxic gait, left drift, and lack of coordination.
The reason for this is children with Angelman's walk with a stiff, ataxic gait with their arms upright, thus resembling a puppet on strings.
His other medical problems included chronic alcoholism, ataxic gait, diarrhea, and episodic depression.
We found that the patient was able to move with broad-based and ataxic gait by unilateral support on a flat surface.
He complained of progressive spastic paraparesis and ataxic gait. He required assistance while walking.