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The following Web pages may be of help in understanding ataxia.
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What is Ataxia

Email Rich 

My name is Richard Doonan and I have ataxia from SCA8 (spinocerebellar ataxia type 8).  I thought I had sporadic OPCA (olivopontocerebellar atrophy) , but genetic testing showed otherwise.  To help you in your search, here is  what I know to date (Ataxia Links). I am glad to share the following, but I do not guarantee every word.  I am NOT a doctor.  It would not be exceptional for me to get something backwards.
There are many things that can cause ataxia (clumsiness) in one's gait (drunken walk). I will focus on what is effecting me.  I have  a disorder causing the cerebellum of the brain to degenerate.  It is known as spinocerebellar ataxia type 8 (SCA8).  There are many types of SCA, for which there are test for a limited number of types (FRDA, DRPLA, SCA1, SCA2, SCA3, SCA6, SCA7, SCA8).
I tested negative for five types of SCA and no one in my family have similar symptoms so I thought that I had OPCA..   I have had a phone call saying I tested positive for SCA8.

I will include a chart on Multiple System Atrophy because I had thought I had this:
Predominate Feature                                                 Terminology Used

Cerebellar Features
Sporadic Olivopontcerebellar Atrophy
Parkinsonism Striatonigral Degeneration Striatonigral Degeneration
Autonomic Failure Shy-Drager Syndrome

These appear to be three manifestation of the same disease. (Some authorities contend that while they have a common pathology; however, they are different specific diseases).

Throughout life I can look back on some possible symptoms (absent-minded, clumsily at sports, and slowness of speech) or these were not symptoms, but just the way I  was made.  I was fifty years old before the onset of this disease. It extensively effected my gait,  coordination, and memory (I have difficulty recalling detail).  At fifty-two my erratic balance confined me to use a power or a manual wheelchair.   I thicken my own water because of a swallowing problem.  I tire easily.  I consider myself disabled and stopped working as a computer programmer, because I could not be competitive in a rapidity changing industry.  I have a hearing problem that I can only explain that I can hear music, but it is not musical to me.  I react to sudden loud sounds.

My speech therapist had me slowed down my speech and this has helped me to be understood (my speech is slurred).  Other therapy has helped my coordination and strength.

I live in a retirement community.  They provide for one meal per day, weekly provide linen change, weekly  my room is cleaned and laundry is done.   I meet a variety of people here, I visit in some other elderly care centers, I use the Internet and email to discover more on my disorder, add my two cents, and find support, and I enjoy my involvement at church

  Ataxia & SCA This is the starting point for any ataxia investigation.  The National Ataxia Foundation  have a wide range of publication about ataxia as well as providing support for those with ataxia.
St Louis - Washington  University Inherited Ataxia classifications Ataxia classifications.
WELCOME to INTERNAF On the International Network of Ataxia Friends Web's home page
Genetic Ataxia Overview Genetic Ataxia Overview (loads of information)
Documents Very informative medical information
Olivopontocerebellar atrophy The National Institute of Health has a good discussion of olivopontocerebellar atrophies.
NAF Pamphlet on Sporadic Ataxia NAF Pamphlet on Sporadic Ataxia
The Shy-Drager syndrome defined The Shy-Drager syndrome
  Ataxia Exercises
International Network of Ataxia Friends (Exercises) On the International Network of Ataxia Friends Web site are these ataxia exercises.

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