Ataxia means without coordination. It can occur after stroke and may affect various body parts including the eyes, hands, arms, legs, body, and speech. Ataxia is most common after a cerebellar stroke and can be identified by wide and unsteady gait, the inability to perform rapid alternating movements, incoordination of the limbs, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, jerky movement, and impaired balance.
Treatment of ataxia involves speech, occupational, and physical therapy. The speech therapist can help strengthen muscles used in speech and swallowing, teach breathing exercises to improve speech, teach patients to speak more slowly, recommend modifications to one's diet for safe swallowing, and advise patients about adaptive communication devices if needed. The occupational therapist can introduce adaptive equipment to help compensate for decreased coordination as well as teach fine motor and upper extremity coordination exercises. The physical therapist can work on improving gait, balance, and strength. Visit the stroke rehab exercises page for information on specific types of exercises.
For more information on ataxia, one can visit the following websites:
National Ataxia Foundation - www.ataxia.org