Spinocerebellar ataxia (NORD)
Spinocerebellar ataxia or SCA is a progressive, genetic, and often fatal neurodegenerative disorder with multiple types, caused by SCA gene mutations. These mutations result in degenerative changes in the cerebellum and the spinal cord, which causes progressive problems with coordination and balance, known as ataxia.
Symptoms of SCA vary depending on the subtype, but common ones include gait abnormalities, limb ataxia, dysarthria, nystagmus, and progressive difficulty with balance and coordination. Some subtypes of SCA can also cause vision problems, hearing loss, and cognitive impairment.
Diagnosis includes neuroimaging and genetic sequencing, and treatment options are mainly focused on managing symptoms and improving quality of life since there is no definitive cure. Physical therapy can help to maintain mobility and prevent falls, while speech therapy can help to improve communication abilities. In some cases, medications can be used to manage symptoms such as tremors or spasticity.