What is the difference in cerebellum degeneration and cerebellar Ataxia?
What causes cerebellum degeneration? There is no family history of this disease. There is no alcohol or drug related information to consider and it is not cancer related. What type of viral diseases can be related? If it is Vitamin E deficiency does the increase intake of Vitamin E make the complications go away? Is it possible that a severe blow to the back of the head years prior to the on set of complication a possible cause?
My father is 59 years old and two years ago was told he has cerebellum degeration. We are looking for the possible cause. Any help you can give us is greatly appreciated.
Ataxia is a particular sort of incoordination in which timing is impaired, and the basic components of movement (force, direction, sequence of action of appropriate muscles, etc) are disordered. If someone is really drunk and tries to walk or do the finger-to-nose test, this is quite apparent (which is why police officers use these tests).
Ataxia usually refers to dysfunction of the cerebellum, which is a structure in the back of the brain about the size of an onion.
However, ataxia doesn't have to be produced by degeneration of the cerebellum per se. For example, the reason alcohol makes you ataxic is that it interferes with the biochemical functions in the cerebellum but doesn't necessarily kill any cells there. After the blood alcohol returns to zero, the cerebellum starts working normally (but see below).
There are many degenerative disorders of the brain. Some have names, others do not. In general, there is a loss of cells in a particular part of the brain (or sometimes in a certain group of parts). That loss of cells takes place over some time (which varies according to what the disease is).
Focusing on the cerebellum, there are many degenerative disorders involving this structure. Sometimes it is "pure" cerebellar degeneration, other times it involves other brain structures as well. Some of these disorders have a genetic basis, others are not clearly inherited.
Many years of heavy alcohol abuse (for example, 25 years of a pint a day) can lead to degeneration of a part of the cerebellum called the vermis. You noted that this is not a factor. Certain tumors can trigger the immune system to make antibodies that attack the cerebellum. It sounds like this has been ruled out, too.
But by now I hope you understand that there are many other causes. There are hundreds of diseases which produce ataxia (at different stages of life), and sometimes it's not so easy to figure out what is happening.
It's hard to comment in this forum about the role of trauma. It is conceivable, but only under certain circumstances, which I can't evaluate here.
You may benefit from a visit to a movement disorders specialist. We offer such services here, and you are welcome to call 800-223-2273 and ask for neurology appointments. Tell them that the reason is cerebellar degeneration and ask for movement disorders specialist.
I hope this helps. CCF MD mdf.
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