In another thread, Eleets39 has said mentioned slipping. Now that’s interesting. I’ve never understood why I slip. When I walk like a drunkard, I can understand that in terms of a lack of muscle coordination. But why do we slip? Then again I keep reading various people talking about the psychology of dealing with ataxia (such as worrying about our ability to cope with an unexpected situation) but does that alone cause me to slip. I’ve slipped on ice when others have walked over it with little difficulty and I don’t know why.

1 Like

:thinking: I slip easily, but then I’m inclined to stumble as well. Most times I put this down to lack of concentration, lack of awareness, and too much multitasking. When I’m on my feet staying safe takes a lot of concentration, I don’t think about much else other than staying upright, so sometimes my feet may not follow through.

Can’t agree. Surely it’s more than concentration. It feels more more like, when we are on a slippery surface, then whether we concentrate or not - we cannot recover ourselves before falling but most people can recover themselves

:thinking: I agree with you there, it’s beyond my control when this happens. The automatic instinct is lost…

I think it’s because “normal” walking mostly involves putting your foot straight down onto the ground, but ataxic walking or recovering from stumbles involves more sideways force, and doesn’t work so well without friction.

But I suspect there’s also something psychological going on… I’ve been known to walk straight onto an ice patch and be completely fine until someone yells “Careful, it’s slippery!” Then I go down like a Looney Toons character realizing they walked off a cliff five steps ago. My theory is that if my brain thinks I’m likely to fall, it tries to bring me down safely rather than risk an uncontrolled fall where I might hit my head or turn an ankle.


Definitely agree with all you say. In addition I once stood on a patch of ice and I couldn’t move a muscle. All my leg muscles refused to do anything. I had to call for help to which some totally unknown person did but would have been completely puzzled why I needed help. I presume that was fear of falling so yes, psychology

A neurophysio once explained this to me … she said that messages from cerebellum to nerves and muscles are not sent to feet in time for us to ‘feel’ or sense when they hit the ground. Consequently it upsets our balance and slips, trips or falling backwards occur.


This answer is really, really good. It explains dozens of my problems. I remember my college lecturer said this was why we have reflex reactions but I never dreamt it explained ataxia. But it does - we have no reflex reactions in our feet (or not this kind). Perhaps it also explains why when I was in hospital at 13 with brain cancer, they tested my reflexes. I remember that, but I never knew why.

This neuro phyio was really good as she explained things to me. the neurologist who originally told me that I had cerebellar degeneration, merely explained it as, being drunk without the drink.


Yeah. That sounds like a neurologist!

1 Like

I feel that most Neurologists know of the symptom ataxia but not of the illness Ataxia. They base their responses on the symptom.


Yep. My neurologist seems to blame everything on epilepsy whereas I blame everything on ataxia. On a separate (but no doubt connected) subject, I may have sleep apnoea - says my GP (family doctor) and I’ve to go for tests. I feel inclined to point out I have ataxia and think it’ll be a nerve thingy but my wife says I should let them do the diagnosing. I have acquired ataxia I think but from what I’ve seen, sleep apnoea is more likely to be amongst SCA ataxians. It turns out I was wrong (some time ago) when I blamed toileting problems on my wide gait. It’s more likely to be sleep apnoea (or both).

Honestly, I’m a little wary of those sleep tests. Lotta companies want to sell their CPAP machine and it’s not really necessary.

It is amazing what once was done subconsciously now takes acute focus. I grip my walker handles tightly very aware of my spinal alignment and the way I should bring my leg forward. I am at the beginning of this journey/challenge. My first month has been spent doing knee bends while holding the rail in my carport, concentrating to keep my back straight looking forward using my legs, not my arms. I shook like leaf when I started but am much more stable. 4 days ago my first small victory. I was able to stand with my hands 2-3 inches above the handles of my walker. First thing that went through my head was “look mom, no hands.” Moms in heaven and I’m 53. Starting over by the grace of God.Grateful for the opportunity. Thankful for this small group, however we got in our condition.


We’re here to support you my friend. Remember, a journey starts with the first step!