What's the treatment for Friedreich's ataxia?
There is no known cure for Friedreich's ataxia. Treatment is based on controlling symptoms and maintaining general health. As the disease may be associated with free radical damage to cells antioxidants such as Vitamin E and coenzyme Q10 are frequently prescribed.
There is no systematic scientific evidence of the efficacy of these supplements. Research is ongoing on the use of a coenzyme Q10 derivative (idebonone) in Friedreich ataxia. In preliminary trials, it slowed the development of heart failure in a small number of patients. Physical activity is encouraged, and physical therapy may be beneficial.
Amantadine may provide some limited improvement in ataxic symptoms, but is not recommended in patients with cardiac abnormalities. Physical and occupational therapy are used to maintain range of motion in weakened muscles, and to design adaptive techniques and devices to compensate for loss of coordination and strength. Some patients find that using weights on the arms can help dampen the worst of the uncoordinated arm movements.
Safety must be considered when there is loss of balance and loss of sensation. Safety measures may include use of railings, walkers, or other appliances. The prevention of injury to a body part with decreased feeling may include: testing bath water to prevent burns, visual inspection of the body part to check for injuries, use of protective shoes, helmets, or other measures.