New Ataxia Treatment Center Will Introduce Innovative
By John Lazarou
Johns Hopkins Medicine
A new full-service patient care and clinical research center
for people with a relatively rare and
disabling brain disorder will be launched at Johns Hopkins with
initial support from a $450,000
National Ataxia Foundation grant funded by the Gordon and Marilyn
Macklin Foundation. Gordon and
Marilyn Macklin were members of the Chesapeake Chapter of the
National Ataxia Foundation, which
was instrumental in the development and funding of the center.
An estimated 150,000 Americans currently have some form of
ataxia, a baffling ailment marked
by a varied constellation of symptoms including unsteady walk, a
tendency to stumble, slurred speech,
abnormal eye movements, difficulty swallowing and problems with
fine-motor tasks such as holding a
fork and buttoning a shirt.
"Because the underlying causes and types of ataxia differ,
and because there is no specific,
direct therapy for it, the best approach for patients is a
one-stop comprehensive center that
combines a variety of specialists, equipment, clinical trials of
new treatments, and programs to manage
and minimize symptoms that affect the quality of life," said
Sarah Ying, assistant professor of
neurology and ophthalmology
at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "We believe we are
this new center to make meaningful changes in patients' lives,
and this grant will also accelerate our
search for treatments that can diminish the suffering and
disability of thousands."
Inherited or acquired as a result of infection, injury,
stroke and other diseases, ataxia has
consequences that depend largely on which part of the brain is
affected. Damage to some parts of the
cerebellum translates to disorders of gait and stance, for
example, whereas damage to other areas of
the cerebellum results in impairment of fine finger movements.
Other forms result in an inability to
stabilize visual images and can be associated with prominent
vertigo, nausea and double vision.
Ying says the Johns Hopkins Ataxia Center will focus on
introducing innovative technologies.
Also, each patient's case manager will coordinate appointments
among speech, physical and
occupational therapists; neurologists; ophthalmologists;
otolaryngologists; pulmonologists; and
The grant was officially awarded during the National Ataxia
Foundation Chesapeake Chapter's
25th Annual Medical Meeting on Feb. 16.
Related Web sites
The Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery
The National Ataxia Foundation
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