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Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis is a common cause of ataxia. MS is believed to result from an abnormal immune response causing damage to myelin which is a fatty material that covers the nerve fibers (similar to wire insulating material) to improve the conduction of nerve impulses. MS affects myelin in the brain, brain stem and spinal cord. The areas affected are called plaques. These lesions can occur anywhere in the central nervous system and if the cerebellum or brain stem are affected, patients may present with ataxia. Indeed sometimes inherited ataxias are misdiagnosed as MS. On many occasions, ataxia patients indicate that their older family members were misdiagnosed with MS. MS diagnosis is primarily made by MRI and further supported by results of spinal tap.

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