The key difference between sensory and cerebellar ataxia is that sensory ataxia is a type of ataxia that is caused by the loss of sensory input into the control of movement, while cerebellar ataxia is a type of ataxia that is caused by cerebellar dysfunction.
Ataxia is known as poor muscle control that causes clumsy voluntary movements. Therefore, ataxia can cause difficulty with walking and balance, hand coordination, speech and swallowing, and eye movements. Ataxia can be caused due to sensory disorders, vestibular problems (inner ear), and cerebellar dysfunction. Based on the causes, ataxia has three types: sensory, vestibular, and cerebellar ataxia.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Sensory Ataxia
3. What is Cerebellar Ataxia
4. Similarities – Sensory and Cerebellar Ataxia
5. Sensory vs Cerebellar Ataxia in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Sensory vs Cerebellar Ataxia
What is Sensory Ataxia?
Sensory ataxia is a type of ataxia caused by the loss of sensory input into the control of movement. The human body normally has a built-in self-positioning sense. This helps the brain to track down where each body part is located. Therefore, sensory ataxia disrupts this human self-positioning sense. The common causes of sensory ataxia may include brain haemorrhage, cerebral palsy, diabetes, Guillain Barre syndrome, head trauma, hereditary sensorimotor neuropathy type 3, multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathies, porphyria, sensory neuropathy, compression in the spinal cord, stroke, tabes dorsalis, toxic reactions, and vitamins deficiencies such as deficiencies in vitamin E, vitamin B12, thiamine or vitamin B1. The signs and symptoms of sensory ataxia include unsteady stomping gait, foot striking the ground hard on each step, pain in the feet and legs, unsteadiness of movement developing more with closed eyes or in low light and a positive Romberg sign (unable to stand for 60 seconds with feet together and eyes closed).
Sensory ataxia can be diagnosed through medical history, family history, imaging studies (CT scan and MRI), lumbar puncture (spinal tap), and genetic testing. Furthermore, treatment options for this condition may include vitamin B12 supplementation, tight sugar level, physical therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, pain relievers, and adaptive devices.
What is Cerebellar Ataxia?
Cerebellar ataxia is a type of ataxia that is caused by cerebellar dysfunction. This condition is caused due to abnormalities in the cerebellum, which may be acquired, inherited, or have no identifiable cause. The symptoms of cerebellar ataxia include unsteady walking, difficulty with fine motor tasks, changes in speech, difficulty in swallowing, problems in vision, cognitive and emotional problems, and increased fatigue.
Moreover, cerebellar ataxia is diagnosed through physical therapy, neurological examination, imaging tests (CT scan and MRI), lumbar puncture (spinal tap), blood and urine tests, genetic tests, and nerve conduction studies. Furthermore, cerebellar ataxia is normally treated by addressing the underlying problems with the cerebellum, such as cerebellum inflammation due to viruses that are treated with antiviral medications. Other causes require other medications and surgeries. Physical, occupational, and speech therapies may also be used if the exact underlying condition cannot be identified.
What are the Similarities Between Sensory and Cerebellar Ataxia?
- Sensory and cerebellar ataxia are two different types of ataxias.
- Both ataxias may have similar symptoms, such as difficulty with walking and balance, hand coordination, speech, swallowing, and eye movements.
- Both ataxias may be diagnosed through physical examination and imaging tests.
- They can be treated through therapies like physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
What is the Difference Between Sensory and Cerebellar Ataxia?
Sensory ataxia is a type of ataxia caused by the loss of sensory input into the control of movement, while cerebellar ataxia is a type of ataxia caused by cerebellar dysfunction. Thus, this is the key difference between sensory and cerebellar ataxia. Furthermore, sensory ataxia does not have features like pendular tendon reflexes, scanning dysarthria, nystagmus, and broken pursuit eye movements. On the other hand, cerebellar ataxia has features like pendular tendon reflexes, scanning dysarthria, nystagmus, and broken pursuit eye movements.
The below infographic presents the differences between sensory and cerebellar ataxia in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Sensory vs Cerebellar Ataxia
Sensory and cerebellar ataxia are two different types of ataxia. Both ataxias may have similar symptoms, such as unsteady movement, speech problems, swallowing problems, eye movement, etc. Sensory ataxia is caused by the loss of sensory input into the control of movement. On the other hand, cerebellar ataxia is caused by cerebellar dysfunction. So, this is the key difference between sensory and cerebellar ataxia.
1. “Sensory Ataxia Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Prognosis.” Health Jade, 18 Aug. 2020.
1. “Cerebellar Ataxia.” Barrow Neurological Institute, 3 Aug. 2022.
1. “Guillain Barre Patterns” By Leonhard, S.E., Mandarakas, M.R., Gondim, F.A.A. et al. – Diagnosis and management of Guillain–Barré syndrome in ten steps. Nat Rev Neurol 15, 671–683 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41582-019-0250-9 (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Ataxia Classification” By Drpsdeb – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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