Neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, spinocerebellar ataxis, multisystem atrophy and olivopontocerebellar degeneration represent one cause of cerebellar atrophy, according to the National Institutes of Health. Acute and hemorrhagic strokes, which can lead to the brain getting too little blood or oxygen, can also lead to cerebellar atrophy.
Temporary or permanent cerebellar atrophy can result from chronic alcohol abuse, advises the NIH. Paraneoplastic disorders, inherited gene changes and transmissible spongiform encephalopathies also cause cerebellar atrophy. Conditions that cause cerebellar atrophy can also impact the cerebral cortex, the brain stem, the spinal cord and other parts of the central nervous system.
Symptoms of cerebellar atrophy include a distinctive walk characterized by unsteadiness, lurching and a wide-legged gait, notes the NIH. The body trunk may also tremor back and forth. The arms or legs may have jerky, unsteady movements, and the person may speak slowly and with a slur.
Dysarthia, or difficulty with speech articulation, is an additional symptom of cerebellar atrophy, explains the National Organization for Rare Disorders. Loss of reason, difficulty swallowing, double vision, vertigo and eye muscle paralysis are also symptoms. Individuals with cerebellar atrophy may also experience rapid involuntary eye movements that are directed horizontally or vertically.
Treatment for cerebellar atrophy varies based on the type, but may include physical therapy, prescription medications and walking devices, details the NIH. Some symptoms and signs may reverse when the underlying cause is treated, although hereditary forms of cerebellar atrophy have no known cure.