Friedreich’s Ataxia

Friedreich’s ataxia is an inherited genetic disease of the central nervous system in which there is a progressive deterioration of coordination and muscle control. It’s inherited from both parents,

Initial symptoms include curvature of the spine (scoliosis), slurred speech and the ability to walk deteriorates. [Diagnosed by balance difficulty and absence of reflexes.]

Walking becomes awkward and unsteady. Problems with co-ordination, control and balance become an ever-increasing problem – until a wheelchair is required for mobility. Arm and hand movement also become uncoordinated and uncontrolled. Which remain problematic when a wheelchair is required.

At an advanced stage, problems can include cardiac problems, shortness of breath, speech difficulty and hearing impairments. The disability becomes more severe as time progresses and complete physical care is required. Speech and hearing problems are also prevalent.

Life expectancy is generally shorter, although some people can live into their 60s or beyond. As with many degenerative diseases of the nervous system, there is currently no cure or effective treatment for Friedreich’s ataxia. Clinical research and drug therapies continue.

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