MRI question: My husband was told he has ataxia in... - Ataxia UK

Ataxia UK

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MRI question


My husband was told he has ataxia in brain injury unit after epigolittitis as he lost oxygen to the brain 6 months on 2 clear ct scans & a clear MRI what does this mean? Can they not see ataxia or is he recovering from it not sure where to go from this point we assumed they would clarify he has a percific type of ataxia and then offer him muscle relaxents or vitamins not sure what to do now I heard vitamin e is good but docs haven't treated him or suggested anything other than OT /physio??

4 Replies

Hi Paula:-)

The Neurologist should be able to confirm whether the diagnosis

of Ataxia is still correct.

An MRI would show Cerebellar Atrophy if it were present but it's

not possible to say which type from an MRI.

Normally blood tests are done to try to determine which type of

Ataxia but in your husbands case you already know it was caused

by illness/trauma.

If you're totally confused by all this perhaps speaking to your GP

would help, he should have copies of all the notes.

I was referred to a Neuro Physiotherapist, at a Neuro Rehabilitation

Centre, ask your GP about a referral, it could be helpful.

Best wishes xB



Thank you for your question.

The word 'ataxia' is greek and literally means lack of order. Somebody with ataxia has difficulty with balance and co-ordination. It is caused by damage to a part of the brain called the cerebellum which is at the back of the brain and can be thought of as the body's 'balance box'. Ataxia is a symptom of many different disorders/conditions but confusingly there is also a group of disorders called the Ataxias of which ataxia is the main symptom.

There are both hereditary and non-hereditary forms of ataxia. The majority of the hereditary forms of ataxia are genetic and progressive in nature However your husband has sustained some damage to his cerebellum causing him to develop the symptom of ataxia. 'Ataxia due to brain injury', which your husband has, is a non-hereditary, non-progressive form of ataxia and will not get any worse. If there is a very specific insult to the brain, as in your husband's case, that damage will not get any worse unless the person is exposed to a further insult, and through rehabilitation the resulting abnormal function could improve.

As Beryl said, the damage to your husband's cerebellum may not be visible on MRI. From what you say, that sounds as if it is the case. I do not know whether he would benefit from medication-your husband's doctors are best placed to answer that. I am pleased he has been offered physio and OT which hopefully will help him recover some of the function he has lost. Unfortunately there is no magic pill or quick fix to make it all better. Believe me, I wish there was. It is a slow process but I would encourage you to keep strong and encourage your husband to engage as much as possible with OT and physio. It is a very frustrating situation, some times more than others, but try and be patient and persevere.

Have you been in contact with Headway, which is the brain injury association? Ataxia due to brain injury is a known problem and you may be able to get some valuable advice from them as to how best to manage your situation. Their website is

Best wishes


Thankyou so much for taking the time to reply ladies I've found your information very useful x

Take everything with a pinch of salt. Especially in the early days. People can say what sort of thing will happen but, NOBODY knows for sure

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