We hope you have begun the new year in a NON ATAXIC manner. Lets look at the origin of the word:
Ataxia: Greek, from a or without + tassein to put in order or “without order”. Ataxia is truly gait without order, and we will see why momentarily. The term was coined in 1670. Every September 25th is International Ataxia Awareness Day. Mark THAT ONE on your calendars!
Ataxia an inability to coordinate voluntary muscular movements that is symptomatic of some nervous system disorders and injuries and not due to muscle weakness.
It is a lack of afferent information either GETTING TO the CNS, BEING PROCESSED BY the CNS, or OUTPUT FROM the CNS. We can still hear Dr Carrick saying “where is the longitudinal level of the lesion? Is it at the receptor, the effector, the peripheral nerve, the spinal cord, the brain stem, the thalamus, the cerebellum or cerebrum?” This mantra, still rings true many years later, as it gives us the afferent pathway to the brain and higher centers of the CNS.
Ataxic gait, not to be considered synonymous with Fredreich’s Ataxia (the genetic disorder described in the 1860’s, related to spinal cord and cerebellar degeneration), can be due to any number of causes which affect processing of afferent information. One too many Tequila’s (100% agave of course), barbituates, joint pathomechanics, diseases affecting receptors (like syphilis or leprosy), diabetes and other forms of peripheral neuropathy, spinal cord injury or disease are only a few of the causes. Virtually anything that can affect the afferent processing or efferent arc of the processing of proprioceptive information.
The large amplitude corrective movements are clues to the CNS that something is awry and are a necessary component of the compensation. Here , you truly are seeing the result of the compensation.
The video offers a simplified explanation and nice clinical example of an ataxic gait. If you don’t believe it, try some field research (or perhaps you already have) with the ethanol of your choice and see for yourself. Of course, some of THAT ataxia comes from changes in specific gravity of the endolymph in your inner year, but that is the subject of another post.
Ivo and Shawn. The Gait Guys…New and Improved for 2012