Difference between ataxia and ataxic gait?

Can anyone explain the difference between having ataxia and having an ataxic gait? Thanks

16 Replies

  • Hi Beryl thanks for the link :) but doesn't seem to be working get a 404 error message:( Lisa

  • 😂 My links are notorious for being 'iffy' I apologise🙂

    I checked immediately on posting and deleted it, obviously you were too quick for me😉

    So, with ref to info found on hopkinsmedicine.org

    'Ataxia is typically defined as the presence of abnormal, unco-ordinated movements. This usage describes signs and symptoms without reference to specific diseases. An unsteady, staggering gait is described as an 'ataxic gait' because walking is unco- ordinated and appears to be 'not ordered'.

    😏 Apologies again, it never fails to surprise me when these links fail. I hope this explanation helps 🙂 xBeryl

  • Thanks beryl x

  • Love your helpful replies ify links and all :) x

  • Hi

    in its simplest form I would say if you have been given a diagnosis of 'ataxia' it means you have a neurological condition (one that affects the brain or central nervous system or both). One of the many symptoms of ataxia is 'ataxic gait'. As Beryl says, this is the name given to a way of walking - usually wobbly and with your legs wide apart to help you balance (very like a drunk person walking).

    There are many different types of ataxia (over 90) so it is best to find out which type you have and get information for that as there are differences in how they progress and what they affect.

    Hope this helps!

  • Thanks Cuds helpful but still confused as your definition seems to indicate underlying neurological problwm which person with ataxic gait has but hasn't had diagnosis of attaxia despite having many symptoms? Appreciate your help though!

  • Dear rankin1st

    The word 'ataxia' is greek and literally means lack of order. Somebody with ataxia has difficulty with balance and co-ordination and has an 'ataxic gait', that is a broad-based gait where the person walks with their feet wide apart.

    Ataxia is a symptom of many different disorders/conditions, for example MS, head injury, stroke, intoxication where ataxia is not the main symptom, but if ataxia is present the person will have an 'ataxia gait'.

    Confusingly there is also a group of disorders called the ataxias of which ataxia is the main symptom, and therefore all people diagnosed with ataxia the disorder will walk with an 'ataxia gait'.

    Best wishes


  • Thanks Harriet most helpful. Still confused as to what came first chicken or egg? As both father and son have similar systemic conditions i think I will just have to chat to Sheffield when we get our next appointment. You are all amazing on this forum thanks so much for all your support and helpful info!

  • Thanks everyone I was just confused as husband was told last year had ataxia (still under investigation at Sheffield) and just seen a letter from Neurologist for his dad that says his dad has Sensory neopathy moderate atrophy, hypotension pes carvas gastrointestinal difficulties small vessel disease all contained in same letter neurologist noted he has an ataxic gait so wondered why one has ataxia and other gets walks with ataxic gait? It's all a mystery to me?

  • Ataxia would be a diagnosis involving an entire group of symptoms--possible visual disturbances, speech involvement, sleep problems, motor problems based upon neurological evaluation. An ataxic gait would be just one symptom. An ataxic gait could possibly be helped with added trunk stability. I suggest taking a look at the use of a weighted vest where the weight on the upper back and across the upper chest can help give some stability and decrease moving from side to side in what is called a lateral sway. Are you experiencing that sway back and forth? Take a look at otvest.com and also see what others on this site are saying about it who are also using it.

    Hope this helps!

  • thanks vintageone my problem is that both father and son are showing entire group of symptoms, neurological gastrological, opthamlogical, swallowing, speech, motor difficulties, and yet one gets ataxia and other gets ataxia gait and just wondered why that could be. I think that as Father is elderly maybe they don't see the point in diagnosing him as having ataxia, but from our perspective it would be helpful for his son, as just on the journey of ataxia. I was just curious really, thanks for taking the time to reply:)

  • Surely a simple blood test to see if they both have the same genetic cause is the way forward? My wife inherited SCA6 from her mother and this was confirmed by such a test.

  • Neither have type confirmed yet just starting journey of diagnosis and seems sometimes takes a while he has been tested for Some genetic markers they came back negative but hopefully a genetic test will be available as you say. Thanks for your help

  • thanks my husband seems to fall sidewards and have to step backwards to regain his balance. Father in law is all over the place but is made worse if he turns quickly, but can also just veer off. Thanks for info about the vest very helpful. I will mention it next time we are in sheffield as waiting for MRI results and appointment.

    have a good weekend

  • Hi have you had your vitamin d levels checked? A few yes ago I walked like a drunk person and needed a few beers to sober up and walk straight, bottom line vit d was rock bottom and raising it resolved it. Hope this helps...

  • Thanks yes been checked for vitamin D and was low levels are back up but still ataxic and drunk :)

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