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Falls and cerebellar ataxia

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The paper considers the main causes of falls. Whatever their cause is, falls may lead to severe maladjustment in everyday life. In nearly 1 out of 10 cases, they are accompanied by severe injuries, including fractures (most commonly those of the proximal femur and humerus, hands, pelvic bones, and vertebrae), subdural hematoma, and severe soft tissue and head injuries. This process is emphasized to be multifactorial. Particular emphasis is laid on the involvement of the cerebellum and its associations, which may be accompanied by falls. This is clinically manifested mainly by gait disorders. Walking is a result of an interaction of three related functions (locomotion, maintenance of balance and adaptive reactions). In addition to synergies related to locomotion and balance maintenance, standing at rest and walking are influenced by
the following factors: postural and environmental information (proprioceptive, vestibular, and visual), the capacity to interpret and integrate this information, the ability of the musculoskeletal system to make movements, and the capability to optimally modulate these movements in view of the specific situation and the ability to choose and adapt synergy in terms of external factors and the capacities and purposes of an individual. The clinical signs of damage to the cerebellum and its associations are considered in detail. These structures are emphasized to be involved not only in movements, but also in cognitive functions. The major symptoms that permit cerebellar dysfunction to be diagnosed are given. Symptoms in cerebellar injuries are generally most pronounced when suddenly changing the direction of movements or attempting to start walking immediately after a dramatic rise. The magnitude of ataxia also increases in a patient who tries to decrease the step size. Falling tendencies or bending to one side (in other symptoms characteristic of cerebellar diseases) suggest injury of the corresponding cerebellar hemisphere. Management tactics for patients for cerebellar disorders are considered.

About the Author

I. V. Damulin
Department of Nervous System Diseases and Neurosurgery, Faculty of Therapeutics, I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, Ministry of Health of Russia, Moscow, Russia 11, Rossolimo St., Moscow 119021
Russian Federation


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For citations:

Damulin I.V. Falls and cerebellar ataxia. Neurology, Neuropsychiatry, Psychosomatics. 2015;7(2):86-92. (In Russ.)

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