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Cook Children's Neurosciences.
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Cook Children's

Acute cerebellar ataxia

Acute cerebellar ataxia, or cerebelitis, is a disorder of the nervous system. It is the sudden onset of a disturbance in coordination. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that plays an important role in balance and coordination. It does not function properly in the case of cerebellar ataxia.

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What causes it?

Causes of acute cerebellar ataxia include:

Who gets it?

While it can occur at any age, acute cerebellar ataxia is most common in young children. It can occur several weeks after a viral infection, such as chickenpox. Most cases go away without treatment in a matter of months. However, recurrent or chronic progressive cerebellar ataxia does occur.

These factors increase the chances of developing acute cerebellar ataxia:

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of acute cerebellar ataxia may include:

Testing and diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and medical and family history. A physical exam will be done, and your child may need to have their bodily fluids and tissues tested. This can be done with:

Your doctor may also need to have pictures taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:

Sometimes, depending on the symptoms and your child's medical history, they may need to have their nerve and muscle activity tested. This is typically done with:

How is it treated?

The ataxia that occurs in children may often go away in a few months without any treatment. In cases where an underlying cause is identified, your doctor will treat the cause. In some cases, your child may have continuing and challenging symptoms. Depending on causes and symptoms your child's treatment will often include:

Can it be prevented?

There is no way to prevent acute cerebellar ataxia except to vaccinate children against viral infections that increase their risk of getting this condition.

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We are here to help.

If your child has been diagnosed, you probably have lots of questions. Call our offices at: 682-885-2500 to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our staff.

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