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Gait Disorder (Ataxia)


Gait disorder (ataxia) is often characterized by jerky, uncontrolled movements that are out of control. It does not, however, refer to any particular illnesses; rather, it relates to indications and symptoms.

It manifests itself as a loss of muscular control or coordination while doing voluntary tasks such as walking or picking items up. Ataxia is a neurological disease that impairs a variety of motions. It is an indication of a much more serious underlying disease that has developed.

A range of motor motions may be classified as ataxic if they seem out of control to others or if the patient thinks they are uncoordinated in their own manner.

Some of them are listed as:

  • Truncal ataxia: It is characterized by trunk instability, which is most apparent while sitting. It is the most obvious sign of the illness while changing postures or walking.


  • Limb ataxia: It refers to upper limb ataxia caused by incoordination and tremor. It includes functional impairment, such as clumsiness while buttoning clothes, writing, or picking up small objects. The patient’s movement must be slowed down in order to approach things precisely.


  • Gluten ataxia: When gluten is consumed, antibodies are produced in the body, and these antibodies target the wrong region of the brain, resulting in gluten ataxia. Glutenin is a protein found in cereal grains such as barley, wheat, and rye.


  • Ataxia telangiectasia: It is a rare hereditary disease. It affects many-body systems, including the nervous as well as immune systems. When this disease appears in early childhood, usually before the age of five, it is characterized by a growing inability to coordinate movements.


  • Episodic ataxia: It refers to a range of neurological disorders that cause difficulties moving about. It is a condition in which a person’s coordination and balance are often impaired in the short term.

As the illness progresses, severe ataxic respiration is characterized by total irregularity of breathing, numerous pauses, and extended episodes of hypoxia, as well as apnea. The deterioration of the respiratory rhythm results in ataxic breathing.

In addition to disorganized or jerky motor activity, the word ataxia may refer to a variety of neurological diseases. Walking, eating, writing, speaking effectively, and reading may all be difficult for people with ataxia, as can other tasks that require precise fine motor control.

Ataxic gait may occur as a result of abnormalities in a variety of neurological system areas or in various sections of the body. The examples include motions induced by orthopedic injuries, arthritis-related discomfort, and muscle deterioration.


Gait disorder causes can be by any of the neurological system’s components, including the central nervous system (constituted by the brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral neural system (roots and nerves connecting the CNS to muscles and skin). While the cerebellum is not working correctly, individuals may walk unevenly or have pain when moving their hands and arms. The cerebellum is divided into three parts. It is in charge of maintaining balance and coordination. An ataxic gait is caused by cerebellar dysfunction.

Damage to the area of the brain that controls your muscle coordination is the most common cause of persistent ataxia. Furthermore, it can also be caused by defective genes that have been passed down through generations.

Acute alcohol intoxication may result in stumbling, but persistent intoxication can result in cerebellar neuronal degeneration, which can lead to permanent ataxia.

Poisoning, protracted convulsions, and oxygen deprivation have all been found to enhance the susceptibility of a key group of cerebellar neurons.

A number of illnesses may induce ataxia including stroke, cerebral palsy, tumor, brain degeneration, hypothyroidism, head trauma, and multiple sclerosis.

Several medications and some types of chemotherapy have the potential to induce ataxia as a side effect.

It is also speculated that an excess of vitamin B-6 may cause ataxia due to toxic reactions.


Gait disorder symptoms include a variety of irregularities in a person’s walking pattern. Unsteady or irregular gait, difficulties keeping balance when walking, stumbling, shuffling steps or an uneven stride are all common symptoms. Individuals with gait abnormalities may also veer to one side, have frequent falls, or have the impression that their legs are weak or uncoordinated. These symptoms can majorly influence one’s mobility, resulting in a lower quality of life and an increased risk of injury.


A detailed evaluation by a healthcare specialist, often a neurologist or a physical therapist, is the first step for gait disorder diagnosis. The examination entails monitoring the individual’s walking pattern, balance, and coordination and reviewing the individual’s medical history and any relevant circumstances, such as recent injuries or drugs.

Diagnostic tests, such as neurological exams, imaging studies such as MRI or CT scans, and sometimes specialized gait analysis, may be performed to determine the underlying cause, ranging from neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease to musculoskeletal issues or medication side effects.


The specific diagnosis determines how gait abnormalities are treated. Physical therapy to increase strength, balance, and coordination may be used as a management strategy. Canes and walkers, for example, can help with movement and lessen the danger of falling. 

Medications to treat underlying problems that contribute to the gait abnormality, such as muscle relaxants for spasticity or medications to treat neurological diseases, may be administered. Surgical operations or other specialized therapies may be required in some circumstances. The gait disorder treatment strategy is individualized, focusing on addressing the fundamental cause, improving mobility, and improving the affected individual’s general quality of life.

When To See A Doctor

If you have any of the following symptoms and are unaware that you have a condition that causes ataxia, such as multiple sclerosis, it is critical that you contact your doctor as soon as possible.

  • Feeling befuddled
  • Muscle coordination is compromised
  • Having trouble navigating
  • Swallowing problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Hearing and vision problems
  • Walking difficulties


This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have concerns about gait disorder or any other medical condition, please see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment suggestions.