5 Rare Neurological Conditions


Ataxia is caused by disease or injury that damages your spinal cord or nerve cells in your cerebellum, the part of the brain that handles muscle coordination.

People with the condition lose muscle coordination during voluntary movements. Walking, for example, is a voluntary movement as is speaking, both of which can be impacted by ataxia. Blinking your eyes, on the other hand, is an involuntary movement and controlled by a different part of the body.

Head injuries, such as from a car accident, stroke, transient ischemic attack, multiple sclerosis, cerebal palsy, some cancers, tumors and sometimes viruses such as varicella zoster virus (that's the virus that causes chickenpox) may cause ataxia. Sometimes toxic levels of alcohol, drugs and certain medications, as well as lead or mercury poisoning, may be to blame. Ataxia may also run in some families, a genetic condition where the body produces abnormal proteins that eventually cause nerve cells to degenerate. Sometimes, though, ataxia doesn't seem to have a cause, known as sporadic degenerative ataxia -- it's estimated that about 150,000 Americans live with heredity or sporadic types of ataxia [source: National Ataxia Foundation].

Related Articles

More Great Links


  • Auchus, Alexander. "Agnosia." The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. 2008. (May 25, 2012) http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/function_and_dysfunction_of_the_cerebral_lobes/agnosia.html
  • Batten Disease Support & Research Association. "About Batten Disease" (May 25, 2012) http://www.bdsra.org/what-is-batten-disease/about-batten-disease/
  • Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD) - Office of Rare Diseases Research. "Agnosia." 2011. (May 25, 2012) http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/Condition/8/QnA/30479/Agnosia.aspx
  • Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD) - Office of Rare Diseases Research. "Paraneoplastic Neurologic Disorders." (May 25, 2012) http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/Disease.aspx?PageID=4&diseaseID=9415
  • Mayo Clinic. "Ataxia." 2011. (May 25, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ataxia/DS00910
  • Mayo Clinic. "Paraneoplastic syndromes of the nervous system." 2011. (May 25, 2012). http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/paraneoplastic-syndromes/DS00840
  • National Ataxia Foundation. "Causes of Ataxia." (May 25, 2012) http://www.ataxia.org/learn/ataxia-causes.aspx
  • National Cancer Institute. "Health Professional Version - General Information About Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma." 2012. (May 25, 2012) http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/pheochromocytoma/Healt
  • hProfessional
  • National Cancer Institute. "Patient Version - General Information About Pheocromocytoma and Paraganglioma." 2012. (May 25, 2012) http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/pheochromocytoma/Patient
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Batten Disease Fact Sheet." 2012. (May 25, 2012) http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/batten/detail_batten.htm
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "Brain Basics: Know Your Brain." 2010. (May 25, 2012) http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/know_your_brain.htm
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "NINDS Agnosia Information Page." 2007. (May 25, 2012) http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/agnosia/agnosia.htm
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "NINDS Paraneoplastic Syndromes Information Page." 2009. (May 25, 2012) http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/paraneoplastic/paraneoplastic.htm
  • National Institutes of Health - Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. "Overview - Pheochromocytoma." (May 25, 2012) https://science.nichd.nih.gov/confluence/display/pheo/Overview
  • National Organization for Rare Disorders. "Batten Disease. 2007. (May 25, 2012) http://www.rarediseases.org/rare-disease-information/rare-diseases/byID/259/viewAbstract
  • Pheo-Para Alliance. "What is Paraganglioma?" (May 25, 2012) http://www.pheo-para-alliance.org/index.php/what-is-paraganglioma/what-
  • is-paraganglioma
  • Santacroce, Luigi. "Paraneoplastic Syndromes." Medscape Reference. 2010. (May 25, 2012) http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/280744-overview
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. "Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLS)." 2011. (May 25, 2012) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002580/
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. "Neurologic Diseases." 2012. (May 25, 2012) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/neurologicdiseases.html


Hear Sounds When Watching Silent Videos? It Might Be Synesthesia

Hear Sounds When Watching Silent Videos? It Might Be Synesthesia

Some people hear what they see. HowStuffWorks looks at the science.