Get answers to your child's growth, nutrition, and feeding behavior questions.
Cerebellar ataxia; Ataxia - acute cerebellar; Cerebellitis
Acute cerebellar ataxia is sudden, uncoordinated muscle movement due to disease or injury to the cerebellum in the brain.
Acute cerebellar ataxia in children, especially those younger than age 3, may occur several weeks after an illness caused by a virus.
Other causes of acute cerebellar ataxia include:
Ataxia may affect movement of the middle part of the body from the neck to the hip area (the trunk) or the arms and legs (limbs).
When the person is sitting, the body may move side-to-side, back-to-front, or both. Then the body quickly moves back to an upright position.
When a person with ataxia of the arms reaches for an object, the hand may sway back and forth.
Common symptoms of ataxia include:
The doctor will ask you if you have recently been sick, and will try to rule out any other causes of the problem. A full brain and nervous system examination will be done to identify the areas of the nervous system that are most affected.
The following tests may be done:
Treatment will depend on the cause.
People whose condition was caused by a recent viral infection should make a full recovery without treatment in a few months. Strokes, bleeding, or infections may cause permanent symptoms.
Movement or behavioral disorders may (rarely) persist.
Call your health care provider if any symptoms of ataxia appear.
Johnston M. Movement disorders. In: Kliegman R, Behrman R, Jenson H, Stanton B, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 597.
Lublin FD, Miller AE. Multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system. In: Bradley WG, Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, eds. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Butterworth-Heinemann Elsevier; 2008:chap 58.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885