The Symptoms of Loco-Motor Ataxia

Begins with dull, heavy pain in the small of the back; pain shooting down the limbs; sensation of a cord tied around the body; or, it may begin with vertigo, epileptic fits, various disturbances of the sight, or contraction of the pupils. When fully developed, disorders of motion; loss of sensibility; toes feel too large for the shoe, or as if there was something between them or under them; burning pain in the soles of the feet; prickling and numbness in the limbs; pricking of the skin of the limbs not felt as soon as usual; sense of touch diminished; patient feels as though walking on bladders; cannot stand still with eyes shut; difficulty in guiding the feet; in walking, feet placed with flapping motion; cannot walk in the dark or without looking at the feet or ground; diminished sensibility in the fingers; patient cannot button clothes, pick up a pin, or touch the end of the nose readily with eyes shut; in advanced stages, the bladder and rectum become paralyzed.

This disease is a very peculiar affection. It often begins so stealthily that it is frequently quite advanced before its real nature is recognized. Its most characteristic symptom is the manner in which the patient walks, which resembles the gait of a drunken man. The disease is now well understood to be the result of induration of a portion of the spinal cord.

The Causes of Loco-Motor Ataxia

Probably the most powerfully acting causes of this disease are sexual excesses and the use of alcoholic liquors. There are also grounds for strong suspicions that it is one of the evil results of the use of tobacco. Syphilis is another cause which is active in quite a proportion of cases. There are other obscure causes.

The Treatment of Loco-Motor Ataxia

This disease is a very obstinate malady, often resisting every measure of treatment, although it is very slow in its progress, generally requiring from five to ten years to complete its course, and, in many cases, a much longer time. The best remedies are rest, careful diet, daily employment of galvanism, and hot and cold applications to the spine, hot sponging and the application of faradic electricity to the affected muscles, and massage. By the use of these measures, we have succeeded in greatly relieving cases in which other remedies had been tried in vain. The treatment mast be persisted in for a long time, although little or no improvement is seen, in the hope of checking the progress of the disease if nothing more is accomplished.