Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with your doctor.
Without the ability to examine you and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of your symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.
There are innumerable cause for diffuse cerebellar atrophy and the treatment depends on the underlying cause. The description " diffuse cerebellar atrophy and neurodegeneration" just explains that the size of the cerebellar ( a part of the brain at the back of the brain, which is responsible for controlling balance of the body) is smaller then usual. It does not say why. Cerebellar degeneration can give one balance problems, abnormal walking, change in speech and abnormal eye movements.
Diseases that are specific to the brain, as well as diseases that occur in other parts of the body, can cause neurons to die in the cerebellum.
Some of the neurological causes of cerebellar degeneration include:
- Strokes: when there is lack of blood flow or oxygen to the cerebellum.
- Degenerative processes ( meaning progress loss of nerve cells in the brain) for which no one really knows a cause or a curel, ike: cerebellar cortical atrophy, multisystem atrophy and olivopontocerebellar degeneration. These are progressive degenerative disorders in which cerebellar degeneration is a key feature, but usually associated with other brain involvement too.
- Inherited or genetic cause ( meaning an mutation of a gene or chromosomal abnormality) like: Friedreich’s ataxia, and other spinocerebellar ataxias, which are caused by inherited genetic mutations that progressively kill neurons in the cerebellum, brain stem, and spinal cord .
- Multiple sclerosis, which usually effects much more of the brain then just the cerebellum, but is due to loss of the protective coating ( myelin) of the nerve cells.
Your cousin will need an extensive neurological work-up to determine the cause of the degeneration. One would also look at Vitamin B 12, Vitamin E and TSH ( thyroid function) levels, amongst other blood tests. Unfortunately just by the description, I can not tell you the cause of the problem.
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