Munson Health
Acute Cerebellar Ataxia

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by Barrett A



Risk Factors

Acute cerebellar ataxia is more common in young children, but it can occur at any age. Other factors that may increase your risk of acute cerebellar ataxia include:
  • Viral infections, such as chickenpox, Coxsackie virus, Epstein-Barr, or HIV
  • Bacterial infections such as Lyme disease
  • Exposure to certain toxins, such as lead, mercury, thallium, alcohol, and organophosphates found in insecticides
  • Cerebellar hemorrhage, abscess, blood clot, or obstruction of an artery
  • Paraneoplastic syndromes—occurs when the immune system attacks the cerebellum in the area of a cancer
  • Certain vaccinations
Recurrent acute cerebellar ataxia may marked by periods of inactivity and flares. Factors that may increase your chance of recurrent acute cerebellar ataxia include:


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, and your medical and family history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests include
  • Lumbar puncture—to for abnormalities of the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds brain and spinal cord tissue
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Nerve conduction study—to test the speed and strength of the nerve's electrical activity
  • Electromyography (EMG)—to test electrical activity of a muscle for weakness
Imaging tests can help diagnose and evaluate neuromuscular structures. These include:


National Ataxia Foundation

National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke



Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Health Canada



Cerebellar ataxia. BBC News website. Available at: Updated November 30, 2004. Accessed February 7, 2014.

Cerebellar ataxia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated January 21, 2014. Accessed February 7, 2014.

Cerebellar signs including cerebellar ataxia. Patient UK website. Available at: Updated October 15, 2009. Accessed February 7, 2014.

Encephalopathy. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: Updated November 9, 2010. Accessed February 7, 2014.

Frequently asked questions. University of Chicago Ataxia Center website. Available at: Accessed February 7, 2014.

Ishikawa N, Kobayashi M. Recurrent acute cerebellar ataxia associated with anti-cardiolipin antibodies. Brain Dev. 2010;32(7):588-591.

Mehta SH, Morgan JC, Sethi KD. Paraneoplastic movement disorders. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2009;9(4):285-291.

Stumpf DA. Acute ataxia. Pediatr Rev. 1987;8;303-306.


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