Living Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Human Motion

pp 1-18

Date: Latest Version

Detecting and Measuring Ataxia in Gait

  • Mariano SerraoAffiliated withDepartment of Medical and Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University of RomeMovement Analysis LAB, Rehabilitation Centre Policlinico Italia Email author 
  • , Carmela ConteAffiliated withMovement Analysis LAB, Rehabilitation Centre Policlinico Italia


Gait ataxia is traditionally described as clumsy, staggering movements with a wide-based gait which resembles the gait of drunken people. Recent modern motion analysis systems have been used to quantitatively characterize the nature and degree of walking dysfunction. These findings have revealed that the whole range of locomotor activities is impaired, including linear steady-state gait, turning, gait initiation, and gait termination. All these locomotor abnormalities reflect poor limb coordination and impaired balance, which greatly restrict patients in their daily life activities and predispose them to falls (van de Warrenburg et al. 2005).

Detecting and measuring gait in patients with ataxia gives further insights on the motor deficit and may allow to discern the complex relationship between the primary deficits and the compensatory mechanisms, to recognize specific abnormalities and their impact on clinical decision-making, and to individualize rehabilitative treatment and better evaluating its effects over the time.


Gait ataxia Cerebellum Gait analysis Muscle coordination Gait variability