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What is Friedreichs ataxia and how is it cured?

Q: I am a 33 years old man diagnosed as having Friedreichs ataxia. I want to know if there is any remedy to this and any financial aid? I cannot work and also have diabetes.

A:Friedreichs ataxia is an inherited disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system resulting in symptoms ranging from muscle weakness and speech problems to heart disease. Ataxia results from the degeneration of nerve tissue in the spinal cord and of nerves that control muscle movement in the arms and legs. Symptoms usually begin between the ages of 5 and 15 but can appear as early as 18 months or as late as 30 years of age. The first symptom is usually difficulty in walking. The ataxia gradually worsens and slowly spreads to the arms and then the trunk. There is currently no effective cure or treatment for Friedreichs ataxia. However, many of the symptoms and accompanying complications can be treated to help patients maintain optimal functioning as long as possible. Diabetes and heart problems can be treated with medications. Orthopedic problems such as foot deformities and scoliosis can be treated with braces or surgery. Physical therapy may prolong use of the arms and legs. Generally, within 15 to 20 years after the appearance of the first symptoms, the person is confined to a wheelchair, and in later stages of the disease, individuals may become completely incapacitated.


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