Ataxia: Spinal ataxia

47 Ataxia

Spinal ataxia


Coordination relies on balance, position sense and the ordering of received sensory information into smooth movement. Failure of coordination, from any of the components, results in ataxia a term used to describe irregular, unpredictable voluntary movement.

Causes of ataxia

Position sense is referred to as proprioception and is achieved through muscle, tendon and joint receptors, associated sensory nerves, and ascending tracts within the spinal cord (Fig. 47.1).

These tracts project to the ipsilateral cerebellum (unconscious proprioception) and to the contralateral cerebral cortex (conscious proprioception). This constitutes ‘general proprioception’.

When this system fails, the gait becomes ataxic and limb position alters. This is most noticeable with spinal cord and brainstem lesions with deficits ipsilateral to the lesion. Cerebral lesions are subtle and tend not to affect the gait but can reduce the contralateral placing response. Sensory neuropathies are rare. Ataxia and anaesthesia of the limbs with self-mutilation are the two chief clinical presentations of sensory deficits. Lesions of muscle, tendons, and joints present as lameness not ataxia.

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Sep 3, 2016 | Posted by in SMALL ANIMAL | Comments Off on Ataxia: Spinal ataxia

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