In order to recover the skills that are required for leading an independent and a satisfying life after any injury or disease, an occupational therapist is required. The word occupation refers to the tasks which one has to perform every day, not to one’s profession. Muscle and joint coordination issues can be fixed with the help of occupational therapy in case if kids. These include daily activities like eating, brushing using the toilet. With the help of OT your cognitive and social abilities and even your motor skills will improve at a very good rate.
How is this beneficial for children with cerebral palsy?
Occupational therapy will be helpful to children who are specially suffering from cerebral palsy. These benefits include:
What to expect?
Occupational therapy is different for different children who have cerebral palsy. It depends on one’s physical, intellectual and social-emotional abilities. The first session is basically done for evaluation where your child’s fine motor and will be observed how your child responds to touch or any kind of movement. The parents are also interviewed in order to find out about the strengths and the weaknesses of your child. For children with cerebral palsy, a revaluation should be done in every 7-8 months in order to see the progress and change the treatment plan accordingly as per the improvement. The operational therapist will use some specific techniques which will help your child to improve very quickly and reach their destination.
These techniques are :
1. Pediatric constraint-induced Movement therapy: This therapy helps your child to move the weaker parts of the body by restraining the stronger counterpart. If your child has a difficulty in moving one of the arms then the stronger arm will be restrained and the weaker arm will be trained in order to gain the strength.
2. Sensory integration therapy: This type of therapy will help your child to improve the ability bro receive, interpret and act on the information and situations that comes in your child’s brain with the help of sensory receptors.
Occupational therapy has been a very important part in improving the physical and the mental discomfort faced by your child when he or she is suffering from cerebral palsy. The therapist may even provide your child with some gadgets in order to make his /her daily life easier and more independent. This helps your child to improve and gradually get better at it without any sort of negativity. While you’re looking for an OT make sure the person has enough experience and knowledge, just to ensure that your child gets the right treatment.
Sensory Processing Disorder refers to a condition in which the brain has problems in receiving and responding to information, which comes through the sense organs. The problems of sensory processing are usually found among children but they can even affect the adults. People receive all kinds of input through how we see, taste, smell, touch and through all our body-centred senses of touch, movement, gravity as well as the position of the body. Occupational therapy is an appropriate treatment that tends to focus on assisting all those people who suffer from sensory processing disorders. Before we talk about the tips, let us briefly talk about the symptoms and causes behind Sensory Processing Disorder
Symptoms Of Sensory Processing Disorder
There are different kinds of symptoms, which can clearly indicate that a child or even an adult is suffering from this disorder. They include:
- The smell of any particular food might cause a problem and a child can have vomiting tendency.
- There are even those, who might scream as and when they get touched.
There are certain reasons as to why this sensory processing disorder occurs. They include:
- Abnormal activity inside one’s brain as and when they get exposed to light and sound in a simultaneous manner.
- All those children, who are quite hypersensitive towards light and sound, could have due to a very strong genetic component. Tips on Occupational Therapy Treatment for Sensory Processing Disorder As discussed earlier, occupational therapy can come to great help for all those who suffer from sensory processing disorder.
Let us talk about the tips regarding the Occupational Therapy:
Treatment for dealing with this problem of Sensory Processing Disorder:
- The occupational therapists initially try to carefully evaluate the issues, which a particular child is facing. A therapist can use certain tests and also keep a close watch on the child's behavior and keep talking to the child like a teacher.
- The Occupational Therapists look to get the kids or even adults involved in different physical activities, which are exclusively designed for regulating their sensory input and ultimately make them feel comfortable, secured and focused.
- Occupational therapists make use of something known as brushing. This is particularly applicable for children, who find the normal sensations like touch, walking barefoot really irritating.
- The therapists tend to carry out the treatment in a particular setting remains outfitted with special equipment known as a sensory gym. The equipment helps children to get into activities like swing, crash in padded surfaces.
- Another exclusive tip regarding occupational therapy for treating this disorder is that the therapists can design a sensory treatment plan, which is completely customized to suit their needs. Children could be made to go through certain activities, which would provide the stimulation that they need from weight and the contact that assist them to feel at home to tastes.
Arthritis is a condition in which people suffer from stiffness of joints, purely because they prevent the movements that can lead to an increase in pain. Now, due to the non-movement of the joints, both the amount of stiffness and pain associated with it can get even worse. Occupational Therapy can be of great help in this regard. They can tell people how to reduce strain on their joints while getting involved in daily activities. The therapists can even show people how they can modify the environments both at home and in their workplaces to reduce activities, which can lead to aggravating the condition of arthritis further.
Tips on How Occupational Therapy Can Help Treat Arthritis
People on visiting an occupational therapist, discuss the symptoms which they commonly come across. They include joint pain, stiff joints, and swelling. On discussing these symptoms, they help an occupational therapist to understand the extent of the problem of arthritis. Occupational Therapists would know that wear and tear of the cartilage is one of the main causes behind the occurrence of arthritis, which happens out of wear and tear. Other than this, a therapist would also know that an autoimmune disorder could also have resulted in this condition.
Let us take you through the tips as to how Occupational Therapists can help people overcome their problem of arthritis after he or she has got a clear picture of how arthritis was caused and what the patients are going through. The tips include:
- Once a therapist has analyzed an individual’s condition on arthritis, first and foremost, he or she would conduct a physical examination, which would focus on the range of motions along with the joint deformities, which would be interfering with their physical activities.
- Then, the occupational therapist makes an assessment regarding the need for splints or supports.
- The therapist can even help in designing the custom splints or other suitable assistive devices.
- These therapists provide immense help in overcoming a person's limitations with regard to their limbs movements by creating a proper plan.
- They help in teaching certain technique on joint protection, which are extremely important for reducing the stress on joints, conserve energy and also prevent further damage.
- Occupational therapists help plan out exactly how people can balance work with rest.
- They harp on the fact that one should sit while doing some work rather than stand.
- While lifting some object, they advise people to make use of two hands rather than one.
- They even provide an extremely useful tip, wherein the therapists suggest that people can avoid the tight grip of hands.
- Moreover, Occupational Therapists instruct people to use assistive devices, which help in compensating for the loss of range of motion.
In order to recover the skills that are required for leading an independent and satisfying life after an injury or disease, an occupational therapist is required. The word occupation refers to the tasks which one has to perform every day, excluding one’s profession. Muscle and joint coordination issues can be fixed with the help of occupational therapy in case of kids. These include daily activities like eating, brushing and using the toilet. With the help of OT, your cognitive and social abilities and even your motor skills will improve at a very good rate.
How is this beneficial for children with cerebral palsy?
Occupational therapy will be helpful to children who are especially suffering from cerebral palsy. These benefits include:
- Increased chances of making your child more independent.
- Enhanced ability to play as well as learn.
- Increased self-esteem and confidence.
- A sense of accomplishment.
- Improvement in the quality of life.
- Benefits the parents as well. Reduce stress and provides a sense of security.
What to expect?
Occupational therapy is different for different children who have cerebral palsy. It depends on one’s physical, intellectual and social-emotional abilities. The first session is basically done for evaluation where it will be observed how your child responds to touch or any kind of movement. The parents are also interviewed in order to find out about the strengths and the weaknesses of your child. For children with cerebral palsy, a revaluation should be done in every 7-8 months in order to see the progress and change the treatment plan accordingly as per the improvement. The operational therapist will use some specific techniques which will help your child to improve very quickly and reach their destination.
These techniques are:
Paediatric constraint induced Movement therapy: This therapy helps your child to move the weaker parts of the body by restraining the stronger counterpart. If your child has difficulty in moving one of the arms then the stronger arm will be restrained and the weaker arm will be trained in order to gain the strength.
Sensory integration therapy: This type of therapy will help your child to improve the ability to interpret and act on the information and situations that come in your child’s brain with the help of sensory receptors.
Occupational therapy has been a very important part in improving the physical and the mental discomfort faced by your child when he or she is suffering from cerebral palsy. The therapist may even provide your child with some gadgets in order to make his/her daily life easier and more independent. This helps your child to improve and gradually get better at it without any sort of negativity. While you’re looking for an OT, make sure the person has enough experience and knowledge, just to ensure that your child gets the right treatment.
Occupational Therapy for Children with ADHD. Necessary for kids with Attention Deficit hyperactive disorder because it's channelises their energy in the right way.
The OT will also do a test to find out your child's strengths and weaknesses. Then they'll recommend ways to address his issues.
During a therapy session, the occupational therapist and your child might:
Sensory processing and occupational therapy is an essential diet for kids with - ADHD, Autism, Neurological Disorder, Developmental Disorders.
Processing sights, sounds, smells, and other things. But there is some debate as to whether this is an actual disorder. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that sensory processing problems exist, but doesn’t consider it a separate disorder.
Most people can filter out the screams of a fire engine siren or the sound of a flushing toilet. But for some kids with ADHD, these sights and sounds overwhelm their senses.
Some children with the condition pull away from too much stimulation. Others crave even more. They're the ones who can swing and spin endlessly.
Occupational therapists use a technique called sensory integrative therapy to help kids with ADHD who have a sensory processing disorder. In this technique, the therapist helps to reorganize the child's sensory system, using:
The research on sensory processing disorder is still new. There is some evidence that this technique can help improve issues like impulsivity and hyperactivity. But most experts think occupational therapy is best for help in treating weaknesses in coordination and organization, which children with ADHD often have.
Why should you choose Occupational Therapy for Developmental Disabilities?
In this article, we will be talking more about Occupational therapy and how it can effectively help those who are suffering from developmental disabilities. Do you know what occupational therapy is? Well, we have discussed it in detail in this article, so have a look.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy is the form of therapy in which a patient is treated so that they can participate in all the everyday activities in life and not let their disabilities hinder their ability from engaging in everyday activities. People from all age groups can be treated with occupational therapy. This kind of therapy helps not only to receive a rejuvenating effect but also improve the living standards of the people who are suffering from different health and mental problems.
Why should patients with developmental disabilities choose occupational therapy?
Patients with developmental disabilities should choose occupational therapy because by undergoing these therapy sessions they will be able to perform their daily tasks and engage in everyday activities. Their disabilities will not anymore be a hindrance for them. Nowadays, doctors and therapists use these techniques because they provide a much more calming and gentle treatment to the overall problem which has the ability to solve a mental or health issue naturally.
How are the patients treated?
Occupational therapy helps children with developmental disabilities to participate not only in school but also in all other social activities. The therapy must be spread among everyone so that they can be aware of it and the necessary individuals receive the right treatment.
Adults are also treated so that they can again perform their daily tasks normally. People who suffer from developmental disorders or are recovering from injuries can regain their skills with the help of this therapy.
Before the treatment is started, a thorough evaluation is done by the therapist in order to determine what are the goals that the person has to achieve and the treatment is designed accordingly. Custom designed interventions are done so that the person can develop the ability to perform daily tasks and activities on their own. An evaluation is done of the outcome of the therapy in order to determine if the set goals are being reached or not and if necessary what changes should be made to it.
Specialised assessments of the adult clients are done so that it can be determined that what are the specific skill sets that the client has to develop in order to be able to do a job. A lot of different tests are also done beforehand to make sure there are no complications.
People suffering from developmental disabilities should undergo occupational therapy so that they can improve their conditions and live a normal life like everybody else. People from all age groups suffering from developmental disabilities should undergo occupational therapy as it will not only help children to attend schools like regular kids but adults also will be able to live a normal life by doing jobs and engaging in all forms of social activities.
Stroke is one of the major reasons for disability in adults. In the US alone, 7 million people suffer from a stroke in a year. After a stroke, the affected individual suffers from lots of health issues. They feel week and fatigued. An ache in one side of the body, inability to walk, and social disability are experienced. Emotional and cognitive functioning is disturbed. Continuum care is recommended for the affected individuals and they need interdisciplinary care to ensure they can do things independently. This is where occupational therapy plays a vital role.
What does the therapist do?
Using a range of evidence-based methods, the occupational therapists can address the physical, emotional, and mental challenges caused by the stroke. Occupational therapy does not concentrate only on the ailment. It takes into account the emotional needs, desires, limitations, and activities of the stroke survivors. It helps them to recoup the skill to get the daily chores done independently. An occupational therapist surveys the home of the stroke survivor and evaluates the risk of hazards. The practitioner also helps the affected individuals in coping with the loss of vision and memory. The physical strength and fortitude are augmented. The major focus will be on making the affected reach the heights of performance in the valued occupations.
How does it help?
Studies prove that occupational therapy does not only help one to recover faster, but also prevents worsening of the condition further. The stroke survivor, who receives the occupational therapy, is independent when it comes to daily living chores. Wouldn’t it be a great improvement on the emotional health when the affected feels he or she can get things done with little or occasional help? Also, this reduces the caregiver burden. The family is relieved that the survivor can eat, bath, and take a few things without someone having to sit closer and help. This mentally boosts the caregivers and the family to motivate the survivor. The stroke survivor also looks forward to the rehabilitation treatment as the occupational therapy makes them feel great.
Transitional and community integration services can make sure that the patients are engaged in their specific environments, once they get back home after occupational therapy in the specialized care center. After a certain period, when the stroke survivors show considerable improvement, the practitioner again evaluates to find if activities like driving can be resumed by the clients. Community mobility of different choices is recommended if the client is not fit for driving. There are driver rehab programs and the driving skills can be regained.
An occupational therapist spends more time with the client than any other healthcare professional. This is because the practitioner is responsible for alleviating the challenges faced by the affected individual emotionally and physically. The practitioner not only helps the client to achieve the goals but also ensures that the client is psychologically motivated whenever he or she is discouraged. Rehabilitation can reverse the damage done to the brain. But it takes lots of efforts to learn the things to do them in a different way. An occupational therapist makes this goal easier for his or her clients.
Central Nervous System (CNS)
CNS (Central Nervous System) comprises of the brain and the spinal cord. The brain is the most important and complex organ in the human body. It consumes about 20% of the oxygen that we breathe. There are hundreds of thousands of well-connected neurons in the brain. The brain is protected by the skull. The spinal cord is connected to the back of the brain and it runs up to the lumbar region of the back.
Brain and the spinal cord are protected by a three-layered membrane and it is called meninges. The central nervous system has a great impact in controlling our emotions, movements and thoughts. It will affect our breathing, body temperature, production of hormones, heart rate and many other functions. Optic never, retina and other parts are connected to the brain directly.
CNS diseases are trauma, infections, degeneration, tumours, structural defects, stroke and an autoimmune disorder. The signs and symptoms vary from one disease to another disease.
Symptoms of CNS (Central Nervous System)-
The structure and function of the spine or brain will be affected when a person is suffering from CNS.
Some of the symptoms are listed below:
- Persistent headache
- Pain in the face
- Pain in the back
- Pain in the arms or legs
- Unable to concentrate
- Loss of feeling
- Loss of muscle strength
- Slurred speech
- Sensitivity to light, sound and smell
- If a person is suffering from a migraine, there will be frequent vomiting and nausea. The person experiences trouble in vision by finding flashing lights. The sensitivity to sound, light and smell is obvious. The patient may experience speech issues as well.
- Brain tumours will lead to trouble in memorizing things. The patient suffers from poor thinking and cognitive skills. The other symptoms are seizures, headache, and problem in walking, seeing, hearing and talking. There will be mood swings, weakness and nausea.
- Multiple sclerosis will affect the brain and spinal cord cells which are integral for the functioning of the nervous system. The symptoms that are prominent with this condition include weakness of muscles, visual disturbances, sensation (pricking to numbness) and trouble in thinking and memory.
- If there are spinal cord disorders, there will be a change in reflexes. The other symptoms are a loss of bowel movement or bladder, partial or incomplete paralysis, and severe back pain. The general weakness is profound in patients suffering from spinal cord issues.
- If there are blood clots or blocking of the blood vessel, a person might suffer from a stroke. In addition to dizziness and weakness, there will be sudden numbness in various parts such as an arm, leg and face. The person suffers from a severe headache, trouble with understanding or speaking and problem in walking. A person may lose balance and coordination as well.
Causes of CNS (Central Nervous System)
- The injury to the brain or the spinal cord will lead to disability. The disability is based on the section of the spinal cord or brain affected by the injury
- Microorganism or virus will lead to infection. The infection can spread in several ways. There are some infections that affect the spine or the brain directly. Cryptococcal meningitis, malaria and leprosy are some of the infections affected by either virus or bacteria.
- If a person is affected by Parkinson’s disease, there will be degeneration of the spinal cord or brain. The dopamine-producing cells will degenerate on a gradual basis.
- Due to birth defects, parts of the brain or spinal cord are not formed properly. The structural defects will lead to various kinds of complications.
- There are cancerous and non-cancerous tumours which affect the central nervous system. The symptoms and damage are based on the area affected the body.
- If a person is suffering from the autoimmune disorder, the healthy cells in the body will be destroyed. The nerve’s insulation (myelin) will be affected when a person is suffering from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. In this process, the white matter in the body will be eliminated.
- The blood supply to the brain will be interrupted which is called a stroke. When the cells are exposed to the lack of oxygen, the tissue will die and irreversible damage will take place.
How CNS (Central Nervous System) is diagnosed?
- CNS infection should be diagnosed to determine the right kind of therapy to overcome the condition.
- To diagnose the CNS disorder, the doctor will take the complete medical history of the patient. After the physical exam, various kinds of diagnostic procedures are implemented to figure out the disorder.
- Computed tomography scan (CT scan or CAT scan) – It is a diagnostic imaging procedure which uses x-rays and computer technology to figure out the disease. Horizontal as well as axial images of the body will be taken in various angles. It is possible to collect detailed pictures of the body including bones, organs, muscles and fat.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) is used to record the brains electrical activity through the electrodes.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnets, radiofrequency, and a computer to record detailed images of organs and structures of the body.
- The metabolic activity of cells will be measured with Positron emission tomography (PET)
- Electrodiagnostic tests are used to evaluate and diagnose muscle disorders and motor neurons. The electrical activity and muscle response will be recorded.
- Arteriogram will be used to detect the blocks in arteries.
- Spinal tap or lumbar puncture will be done to measure the pressure in the spinal canal and brain. Cerebral fluid will be collected and the possibility of infection will be found.
- A die will be injected into the spinal canal to obtain the accurate picture of the structure through x-rays. This procedure is called Myelogram.
- Blood flow in case of stroke will be analyzed with the neurosonography by using high-frequency sound waves.
- Ultrasound (sonography) uses high-frequency sound waves and computer. Images of blood vessels, organs, tissues will be captured very accurately. The internal organs, as well as their functions, can be assessed with ultrasound.
- Prevention is considered for certain conditions such as a stroke. Most of the other conditions can be focused on the post-infant phase of life. The risk factors for neurological conditions should be avoided. The risk factors include inherited biological traits such as genetic predisposition.
- The behavioural and biological factors will play an important role in preventing the condition
- Temperature and climatic conditions and geographical variations will help in managing the condition in a better way
Treatment of CNS (Central Nervous System)
- If you are suffering from depression, you will want to undergo psychotherapy. You will want to take the help of psychologist, psychiatrist and trained medical professional to overcome the disorder. You will learn new ways to overcome various challenges and changes that depression affects.
- If a person is suffering from sleep disorder due to CNS, the rehab management is based on the type of disorder. In most of the cases, the doctors recommend good sleep hygiene. The routines to go to bed will be changed so that there is a possibility to optimize the sleep. Patients are advised to avoid naps and they should exercise on regular basis. Coffee should be avoided before bedtime. The exercising should be avoided before going to bed. Some patients are required to use medications and devices to overcome insomnia and breathing issues.
- With the help of family members, patients can change their sleep-related issues. The patient should go through the counselling if the sleep affects the work-life balance.
- The birth defects of the CNS will be overcome through the surgical procedures. There will be defects in the structure of the brain and the spinal cord. There are various kinds of disorders and medical conditions which come under minor to major categories. In the case of microcephaly, the brain growth will be affected. With spina bifida, the spinal cord will not form properly.
- If a person is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, the muscles will become stiff. There will be difficulty in the initiation and the muscles will become slow. The patient will find it difficult to maintain the balance and posture. The issues include urination problems, constipation, sleep problems, loss of smell, dementia and depression. In addition to general measures to overcome the condition, physical and occupational therapy will be implemented by medical professionals. Some patients will be benefited through the deep brain stimulation.
- The root cause of CNS disorders that arise due to tumours will be diagnosed before offering the treatment. There are chemically induced tumours, brain tumours formed due to oncogenic viruses and other factors. Certain conditions occur in children as well as adults. Doctors will explore various options including brain chemotherapy to overcome the condition.
- There is no cure for autism and it is a permanent condition. By implementing the right kind of therapy, the disruptive behaviour can be managed in the best possible way. By imparting special education, the person will become independent. If the autism is diagnosed earlier, the treatment can be initiated quickly and there will be better results. The autism varies from one person to another person. Hence, the required treatment varies as per the condition.
- The stroke in a newborn baby or children is called as cerebral venous thrombosis. It will lead to a blood clot in the venous sinuses of the brain. The flow of blood from the blood to various parts of the organs will be affected. Cerebral venous thrombosis should be taken up as a medical emergency and the patient should be admitted into the hospital immediately. In addition to IV fluids, the patient will get medications to treat blood clots and seizures.
- Attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD) is a behavioural disorder in children. The disorder affects 3% to 7% of children. There will be a tendency to be hyperactive and the patient will be impulsive and will not pay attention. There will be behavioural and academic difficulties in a person suffering from ADHD. The treatment options for ADHD include psychological intervention, medication, special counselling and support groups.
- There is a difference between CNS and peripheral nervous system. Even though CNS and peripheral nervous system are interconnected, the peripheral nervous system is connected outside the brain and spinal cord.
- Stroke, migraine, brain tumours, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord disorders are common CNS disorders. As per the research, there are more than 600 neurological disorders. The way the disorder affects the human body should be understood and the most appropriate treatment should be offered to the patient. The recovery and normalization of the patient are based on several factors. The condition and cause should be detected at an early phase so that the patient will get the best treatment and the condition can be managed in the best possible way.
- If there are neurological issues, there will be an impact on the movement, swallowing, speaking, breathing and learning difficulties. The functioning of the brain, nerves, spinal cord and nervous system will be affected.
Myths Related to CNS (Central Nervous System)
Myth #1: CNS disorders can be treated very efficiently – Even though most of the neuropsychiatric diseases do not have well-defined etiopathogenesis, there has been great progress on their causes. There are factors that affect genetics as well as the environment. The condition can be managed in a very efficient way by offering medication and family support.
Myth #2: CNS disorders will lead to social isolation – Patients suffering from CNS disorders should get the best support from the family and friends. There should be a broadminded approach to deal with the patients. With the institutional and community support, the social isolation can be avoided.
CNS diseases or CNS disorders are a group of neurological disorders which affect the structure of the brain or spinal cord. Your vital signs are controlled by CNS. Your ability to see, talk, move, smell and think will be affected by CNS. If a patient is suffering from neurodegenerative disease, there will be an impact on the family and society as well. Hence, early diagnosis will help in offering the best treatment to overcome the condition. In most of the cases, the condition can be managed even though there is no permanent cure for those conditions.
The muscle coordination in the body will perform crucial functions. A perfect coordination is required to deliver a speech, walk, move, swallow food, drink water and pick up objects. You will be able to perform various kinds of voluntary movements if there is perfect coordination of muscles. There are many causes which lead to Ataxia which include head trauma, stroke, alcohol abuse, tumour and multiple sclerosis. As there are many types of Ataxia, the doctor will figure out the type after the diagnosis and right kind of treatment will be offered to the patient.
It is crucial to figure out the type of ataxia. If there is a loss of balance and coordination, there will be great difficulty in performing the day-to-day activities. After diagnosing the cause, the patient should implement the course of action as suggested by the doctor. The patient should get support from family members and associates so that there will be a quick recovery.
Causes of Ataxia-
- There are wide ranges of factors that lead to Ataxia. Some people are born with Ataxia while others develop it gradually.
- Some people are affected by Ataxia after a stroke, brain tumour, head injury, multiple sclerosis and excess alcohol consumption.
- Ataxia can become severe over a period of time. However, it can stabilize and the stability is based on the cause.
- Cerebellar ataxia is a common form of Ataxia. Cerebellum will combine the sensory perception, motor control and coordination. If there is dysfunction of the cerebellum, it will lead to Ataxia.
- The assimilation of sensory perception, motor control and coordination will take place in the brain’s region called the cerebellum.
- The neurological abnormalities will take place with the vitamin B-12 deficiency. There will be overlapping of cerebellar and sensory ataxia.
- There will be changes in the behaviour and personality when you are affected with the ataxia. The changes in voice and muscle tone will take place gradually.
Symptoms of Ataxia-
- People suffering from Ataxia will witness poor coordination and they fail to lift objects successfully.
- If a person is suffering from cerebellum Ataxia, it will lead to neurological issues.
- The neurological issues associated with cerebellum ataxia include floppiness, lack of coordination between organs, limbs, muscles and joints.
- The patient will not have the ability to control distance, power, the speed of the arm, hand, leg and eye movement.
- There will be difficulty in estimating the passage of time as well.
- The patient will fail to perform activities at a rapid phase and in an alternate manner.
- The symptoms of ataxia are based on the parts that are in the cerebellum. There is the probability of occurrence of lesions on either sides or one side.
- If there is damage of vestibulocerebellum, the person will lose balance and there will be an impact on the eye movement as well. A person might want to stand a foot apart (between legs) to hold items and avoid swaying backwards or forward.
- The patient fails to maintain the balance when the feet are together and the eyes are open.
- If the spinocerebellum is affected, there will be unusual gait and there will be difficulty in stepping. The patient finds it difficult to step and there will be sideways steps, unequal steps and stuttering starts and stops. The body and limb movements are regulated by spinocerebellum.
- If there is the impact on cerebrocerebellum, there will be issues with voluntary and planned movements. There will be difficulty in head, eyes, limbs and torso while making voluntary movements. With slurred speeches, there will be variation in rhythm and loudness.
- Patients affected by sensory ataxia will suffer from the loss of proprioception. Proprioception is nothing but the sense of the relative position of the neighbouring parts of the body. You will get a sense whether the body is moving as per the effort exerted by the person. It will also give a feedback on the current position of body parts in relation to the other.
- If a person is suffering from sensory ataxia, there will be an unsteady stomping gait. The heel will strike hard while touching the ground with each step.
- If a person walks in poor lighting conditions, there will be postural instability.
- The instability will worsen while standing with close feet and closed eyes. With the loss of proprioception, there will more dependence on visual data.
- With vestibular ataxia, the vestibular system will be affected. In acute cases, the patient will experience nausea, vomiting and vertigo. If there are slow-onset chronic bilateral cases, the patient will experience unsteadiness.
- If the ataxia takes place due to injury or health condition, the symptoms will appear at any age. The symptoms will improve on their own without any treatment. The initial ataxia symptoms include poor limb coordination and dysarthria. There will be slow and slurred speech which cannot be produced very easily. There will be difficulties in controlling the volume, pitch and rhythm.
- In severe vestibular ataxia, there will be difficulty in swallowing. Coughing and choking symptoms are very common. You can find the change in facial expressions. There will be issues such as walking difficulty, vision and hearing issues and imbalance.
- The cerebral ataxia will occur between 4 years and 26 years. There will be less severe symptoms compared with acute ataxia.
- There will be the appearance of small veins around the eyes, cheeks and ears. The patient may experience delayed physical and sexual development. It will weaken the heart muscle. Diabetes, high arching feet and scoliosis are the symptoms of Friedreich’s ataxia.
- The doctor should differentiate the symptoms of ataxia from other conditions. In addition to normal physical check-up, various kinds of tests are performed to assess the condition of the patient.
Diagnosis of Ataxia-
- The doctor will suggest several tests to diagnose the disorder. In addition to physical examination, neurological tests will be conducted to figure out the issue.
- The tests are performed to find out the hearing, memory, balance & walking, vision, concentration, reflexes and coordination.
- The symptoms are evaluated by conducting a number of tests.
- Nerve conduction study – The functioning of nerves will be studied by the nerve conduction study.
- EMG – Electromyogram will record and evaluate the electrical activity in muscles.
- The cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord and brain will be measured with the spinal tap.
- The rise or fall of blood cells will be evaluated with the complete blood count test. The overall health assessment will be done with the blood test.
- CT or MRI scan will help in the assessment of the brain damage through the images. Pictures of the brain will be taken at various angles so that closer look and evaluation will be done.
- The doctor may perform a urine analysis and ultrasound test as well.
Treatment of Ataxia
- Generally, ataxia is not curable. The purpose of the treatment is to improve the symptoms and it will improve the quality of life.
- By using adaptive devices, the treatment will address coordination and balance issues. The patient will be independent after undergoing the treatment.
- The support will be provided by using cane stick, walker, crutches and wheelchair.
- There will be the management of things at home and office after undergoing the occupational therapy.
- The curvature of the spine can be treated with the orthopaedic care.
- There will be an improvement in the strength and mobility after the physical therapy.
- The frustration and depression can be handled by the counselling. These are the symptoms which may arise due to physical immobility and coordination.
- By taking special diet and vitamin supplements, it is possible to overcome the ataxia. If there is vitamin E deficiency, it should be addressed in the best possible way.
- By offering the gamma-globulin injections, ataxia telangiectasia can be treated.
- Various kinds of drugs are available to deal with muscle spasm and uncontrollable eye movements.
- The treatment for ataxia is dependent upon the cause. The treatment period varies from few weeks to few months. In some case, a lifelong management of the condition is necessary. The caretaker should have the patience to bring the best changes in the patient.
- If you are suffering from an infection, antibiotics will be prescribed by the doctor.
- The stroke that led to ataxia will be treated by using blood thinners.
- By using steroids, the inflammation of the cerebellum will be treated in a very efficient manner.
- The exposure to toxin should be eliminated if toxins are the reason for the ataxia.
- Blood loss in the brain, tumour in the brain, chickenpox, reaction to certain cancers, vitamin E and B12 deficiency will increase the risk of ataxia.
- If you have not inherited ataxia, illness or injury will lead to ataxia. The condition is called idiopathic ataxia. If there is no other medical reason, the doctor will diagnose the idiopathic ataxia. Combination of environmental factors as well as genetic causes will affect the condition.
Prevention of Ataxia
- Ataxia can be inherited or non-inherited. If it is a genetic defect, the inheritance will take place from either mother or father. It is a health condition which can pass on from one generation to another generation. The severity may decrease from one generation to another generation. In some cases, the condition will weaken with the increase in age.
- To rule out the genetic forms of ataxia, genetic testing should be done. However, it is not possible to trace all genetic forms of ataxia.
- By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is possible to prevent ataxia to some extent. You should be able to deal with the stress so that there will not be the impact on the brain.
- By taking nutritious food, the condition can be avoided or managed in the best possible way.
- Counselling, support groups and speech therapy will help in improving the condition in the best possible way.
Myths of Ataxia
Myth #1. Treatment is must to overcome ataxia –
treatment for acute ataxia is always not necessary. If the virus is the cause of acute ataxia, it is possible to achieve full recovery without treatment. The viral acute cerebellar ataxia will subside in a few weeks. However, you should undergo the treatment if the virus is not the cause of ACA.
Myth #2. You will get ataxia due to reaction –
There are various reasons to be affected by ataxia. Some people may be affected by ataxia due to certain medications. Prolonged usage of drugs, alcohol and medications will also have a negative impact on the health.
Myth #3. Acute ataxia can be treated –
If you are suffering from acute ataxia, it can turn into chronic due to other complications. The complications such as stroke, infection and bleeding in the brain will have a severe impact on your health.
Myth #4. Laboratory tests are not required -
To find out the toxins, the physician may recommend lumbar puncture in which case electrolyte and chemical abnormalities will be found in a very efficient manner.
The movement disorder is called Ataxia and it will surface if there is a problem in the brain. There are various types of ataxia. You will want to move the muscles in your arms or legs and they will not move. The doctor will assess the condition through the physical examination and other kinds of tests. Non-invasive tests are performed to diagnose the cause and the condition can be managed through the treatment. It will take time to assess the condition of the patient. The most appropriate treatment will be suggested by the doctor to overcome the condition. It may take a few weeks to a few months to overcome the condition. In some cases, it will take many years.