Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) is a genetic neuromuscular disease that can lead to motor control issues and often leads to the inability to walk, problems with the senses and swallowing, and later in life, heart complications. There is no cure for the disease, but there are ways to manage the condition and improve the quality of life for those living with FA.
Physical therapy can help to maintain motor and muscle control for as long as possible, improve circulation and help with issues with speech and swallowing.
Occupational therapy helps those living with Friedreich’s ataxia to manage their everyday lives and their changing needs as the condition progresses. It can also help patients learn how to use walking canes, walkers, wheelchairs and other devices to help increase independence.
Many people with Friedreich’s ataxia will develop curvature of the spine (scoliosis) and often require surgery to help straighten and support the spine. Foot abnormalities associated with FA such as club foot or high arches may be improved with surgical intervention.
For those who develop major issues with swallowing, stomach feeding tubes may need to be inserted into the stomach.
Some patients who develop heart complications may need a pacemaker fitted.
Medication cannot reverse or slow down the ataxia of the muscles, but it can be used to help manage complications such as heart disease, arrhythmic heartbeat or diabetes.
Because of the high risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, Friedreich’s ataxia patients will be advised to eat a diet that manages their blood sugar levels.
Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.