Friedreich's ataxia is a hereditary disorder that leads to progressive and irreversible damage to the nervous system. Initial signs of the condition include problems with balance, speech and coordination and the illness can eventually lead to curvature of the spine, cardiac problems and diabetes.
Friedreich's ataxia was first described by a German physician Nicholaus Friedreich in 1863, after whom the disease is named.
Some examples of signs that may be detected during a physical examination are described below:
The average age of death among people with Friedrich's ataxia is 35 years and the cause of death is usually cardiomyopathy. Women have a more positive outcome than men, with a 20-year survival rate of 100% compared with only 65% in males.