International Ataxia Awareness Day Shines Spotlight on Neurological Diseases

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Estimated 150,000 Americans Impacted

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Symptoms of Ataxia are often misdiagnosed, and people don’t know that they have it until a well-informed physician tests them for it.

The National Ataxia Foundation is banding together with other Ataxia organizations around the globe to promote September 25 as the 17th Annual International Ataxia Awareness Day. Ataxia is a group of about 60 related neurological diseases that affect the brain’s cerebellum. Over time, people with Ataxia have a loss of balance, slurred speech and deterioration of motor skills.

It is estimated that approximately 150,000 Americans are impacted by Ataxia, which affects both genders and all ages, but too often strikes children and young adults. Ataxia is caused by either a recessive or dominant gene. There are also sporadic forms of Ataxia that have no known genetic link or family history. Presently, there are no known treatments or cures.

In the dominant forms of Ataxia, each child born has a 50/50 chance of developing the disorder. In the case of recessive forms, each child born has a 25 percent chance of being affected, a 50 percent chance of being a carrier, and only a 25 percent chance of not being affected or a carrier of the gene.

“Symptoms of Ataxia are often misdiagnosed, and people don’t know that they have it until a well-informed physician tests them for it,” says Bill Sweeney, president of the National Ataxia Foundation’s Board of Directors. “In the recessive forms of Ataxia, many times people don’t know that they carry an Ataxia gene until their child begins to display signs of incoordination. That’s why it’s so important to educate the medical community and the general public.”

The National Ataxia Foundation raises funds in support of its mission and connects families with the latest research information and a community of support. While many local chapters are holding fundraisers and awareness events throughout the month of September, NAF is also spearheading an International Walk ‘n Roll to Cure Ataxia virtual event. Supporters can sign up and contribute to the fundraiser at http://www.ataxia.org/walk/virtual.

For more informational about the National Ataxia Foundation, visit http://www.ataxia.org.

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About National Ataxia Foundation
Since 1957, The National Ataxia Foundation has been dedicated to improving the lives of persons affected by Ataxia through support, education and research. NAF research programs fund research studies throughout the world. The Foundation supports research in dominant, recessive and sporadic Ataxia. Learn more about the National Ataxia Foundation at http://www.ataxia.org.

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Glenn Gillen
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