Spinocerebellar Ataxia is an illness that occurs when parts of the nervous system that control movement become damaged. There are treatments for Spinocerebellar Ataxia sufferers, who during the illness experience failures of muscle control in their limbs, this leads to a lack of balance and coordination or great difficulty in walking. The term ataxia is mainly used to describe the symptoms, it is sometimes also used to refer to a group of disorders; although it is not a specific diagnosis. Ataxia cause cells in the part of the brain called the cerebellum to degenerate, or atrophy, the spine can also be affected. At this time there is no known cure for treating Spinocerebellar Ataxia, which is considered to be a progressive and irreversible disease, though not all forms of Spinocerebellar Ataxia cause severe disability. Treating ataxia is usually aimed at easing the symptoms of the illness rather that the disease itself. Some of the symptoms include tremors, stiffness, depression, spasticity and even sleep disorders, this list is not exhaustive though. So treating ataxia would be aimed at alleviating these symptoms, either through medication or therapeutic measures. Many people who become afflicted with this illness will eventually become unable to perform daily tasks, such as brushing their teeth or making a cup of tea. One of the treatments for ataxia can be rehabilitation therapy which can help ease the sufferer’s decline and perhaps help in their ability to do things for themselves. The onset of the illness and the progression rate of the disease is varied.
Research on stem cells means stem cell treatment is available at St. Michael’s Hospital in Shanghai, China for sufferer’s. It seems to have been a major breakthrough as a treatment for Spinocerebellar Ataxia. Research on stem cells means the cells can be transplanted via lumbar puncture. Patients who have received this treatment for Spinocerebellar Ataxia often feel their quality of life is vastly improved. So perhaps the patient could not pick up something small because of the tremors; they can then do so after the stem cell treatment. Or maybe they had double vision which has then gone on to be alleviated because of the improvements in research on stem cells. Any shaking is vastly reduced, and the ability to walk can be greatly improved. It must be emphasised however, the treatment on stem cells may improve the quality of a sufferer’s life, it may not expand their life.
Treating ataxia still has many options if a patient cannot get to China for research on stem cells treatment for Spinocerebellar Ataxia. There are exercises available to strengthen the muscles, which can significantly improve balance. Clinical trials have also revealed that treatment for Spinocerebellar Ataxia could include intensive rehabilitation programmes which coupled with physical and occupational therapies, can vastly improve functional gains such as walking, and day-to-day activities. However, it is hoped that in the future treating ataxia with stem cells will become more widely available and perhaps lessen the need to travel around the world to get the treatment that has already improved so many lives.