The condition known as Cerebellar Atrophy is a genetic condition passed from parent to child and is generally known to occur in adults around the age of forty years on average, however, juvenile victims are also known to occur and they will most often not survive past the age of sixteen. Once the condition begins, an adult who has developed this condition can expect to live between ten and thirty more years. Researchers are aware that the passing of the condition from parent to child occurs through a faulty gene, which in some cases can originate in both parents if they both carry the defective gene; but there have also been cases of sporadic occurrence, where the atrophy was not passed through either parent and the patient is the first in the family to acquire it.
The onset of Cerebellar Atrophy is hard to accept for not only the victim, but the family of the victim, as the patient may suffer from cognitive decline and other symptoms such as slurred speech, that may resemble damage from stroke. Gradual loss of function will also occur as the condition progresses. As well as the obvious physical symptoms, it can be detected with an MRI scan, which will likely show atrophy in the spinal cord, brain stem and cerebellum.
The word Atrophy in the case of Cerebellar Atrophy is describing what occurs to the cerebellum, brain stem and spinal cord as the organs deteriorate. It is similar to how an athlete’s well-conditioned muscles will deteriorate, or atrophy, if the athlete suddenly stops training due to an injury. In the athlete’s case, the muscle will start to shrink over a period of weeks and be less able to function at a high level. Fortunately for the athlete, he/she can start training again and reverse the atrophy once recovered sufficiently from the injury. Unfortunately and tragically, the victim of Cerebellar Atrophy cannot begin training to reverse the condition. It is degenerative and will continue until the victim passes away.
This hereditary condition has no cure at this time and is difficult to treat, although research on this family of disease is currently being conducted. The research is aimed at determining the gene responsible, which could even occur within the next generation, allowing for the development of treatments and therapies.
The symptoms of the hereditary version of atrophy are similar in many ways to other acquired conditions such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, alcoholism and others; however these acquired versions can be treated more successfully at this time. Recommendations however, include: avoiding alcohol and other toxic substances that can affect the cerebellum; not playing dangerous sports that require balance; and taking vitamins and anti-oxidants. It is also imperative that the condition is tracked by a physician through regular doctor appointments. This condition is best treated by the love and understanding of family members in the effort to make the victim’s time left as comfortable and memorable as possible. Sometimes the families are fortunate enough to have many years with their loved one but any time left should be special time, which will certainly allow the victim to be able to deal with what is occurring in a better frame of mind.