Influence of physiotherapy treatment on fall risk in cerebellar ataxia patients - case report

Martina Rilović, Mirjana Telebuh



Introduction: Cerebellar ataxia develops as a result of a lesion in the cerebellum and/or afferent and efferent cerebellar pathways. Ataxic gait and balance disorder increase risk of falling, reduce mobility, cause fear of recurrent falls, limit patient’s activities and social participation, and consequently reduce the quality of life and independence.

Aim: To determine whether there is an influence of physiotherapy treatment on fall risk in cerebellar ataxia patient.

Materials and methods:  The paper presents the case of the patient with diagnosed cerebellar ataxia. The patient underwent cycles of 20 therapies taking place 3 times a week over the period of one year. Each treatment lasted 60 - 90 minutes. The effect of the physiotherapy treatment on fall risk was assess by the Berg Balance Scale, Dynamic Gait Scale and International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale. A physiotherapy assessment was carried out at the beginning and the end of each therapy cycle, a total of 10 times.

Results: The Berg Balance Scale showed a statistically significant difference in measurements (p = 0,001) thus positioning the patient in the low fall risk category. The patient achieved a 48 % better result in the last measurement in comparison with the first measurement. The Dynamic Gait Test showed a statistically significant result (p = 0,016) which was 17 % better in the last measurement in comparison with the first measurement, although the patient belonged to the fall risk category in the period between 1st and 10th measurement. The International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale showed lower, but still statistically significant results (p = 0,001). The result of the final measurement was 4 % lower when compared to the first measurement, and lower results are better.

Conclusion: Intensive problem-oriented treatment with appropriate functional goals affects the fall risk in cerebellar ataxia patients and will slow down the process leading to disability, functionality and better quality of life.


Key words: cerebellar ataxia, physiotherapy treatment, fall risk