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What is cerebellar degeneration?

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Cerebellar degeneration is the deterioration and death of neurons in the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain controlling balance and muscle coordination, reports the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Among the causes of the disorder are various neurological diseases, cancer and alcohol abuse. There is no cure for hereditary cerebellar degeneration, and treatment and prognosis for other forms depends on the underlying cause, states the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center.

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Neurological diseases associated with cerebellar degeneration include stroke, ataxia, cortical atrophy, multiple sclerosis and disorders causing inflammation of the brain, such as Creutzfeldt-Jacobs disease, explains the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Some types of cancer provoke cells in the immune system to attack neutrons in the brain. Chronic alcohol abuse can cause cerebellar degeneration that may be permanent or temporary. Symptoms include an unsteady walk, body tremors, slurred speech, rapid eye movements and jerky movements of the extremities. Psychiatric disorders often accompany physical cerebellar degeneration symptoms, adds the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center.

Treatment for hereditary cerebellar degeneration involves drugs to improve movement, physical therapy for muscle strength and devices for walking assistance, according to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Cancer-induced cerebellar degeneration may improve through treatment of the disease. Abstaining from alcohol and adopting a healthy diet may relieve symptoms brought on by alcohol abuse.

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