Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA)



Spinocerebellar ataxias (SCA) constitute a group of genetically defined hereditary, degenerative, progressive diseases affecting the cerebellum and its connections.


The cerebellum is a part of the brain which is responsible for maintaining balance and controlling movement.


Some common symptoms of Spinocerebellar Ataxia include:

  • Impaired hand-eye coordination

  • Frequent stuttering

  • Unsteady gait

  • Uncontrolled or repetitive eye movements

  • Trouble swallowing food

  • Slurred speech

  • Vocal changes

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Difficulty processing, learning and remembering information

Speech Challenges associated with spinocerebellar ataxia


The progressive nature of the disease can result in impairments with communication and swallowing.

Communication and swallowing skills require the coordination of many different muscle groups. It is for this reason why these skills are affected.


A common symptom seen is called Dysarthria. Dysarthria is a speech impairment of motor origin that results in challenges with:

- Voice

- Speech Clarity

- Speech naturalness

- Speech intelligibility



The Good News

Speech Pathologists can assist with managing speech and swallowing challenges for people with Spinocerebellar Ataxia.


Treatment may entail:

- Exercises to strengthen the muscles and the appropriate coordination of muscle movements

- Strategies and exercises to support greater clarity and precision when communicating such as speaking more slowly, over-articulating muscle movements or segmenting your words

- Using breathing techniques and exercises to support respiration and breath to speech coordination

- Changing your posture to improve voice quality

- Speech exercises to improve the strength of your voice and support pitch alterations

- Implementing swallowing rehabilitation exercises to improve muscle endurance and functioning, reduce muscle hypertrophy and increase cough effectiveness. Such exercises may include the effortful swallow technique or use of an inspiratory/expiratory muscle training device (RMT) of expiratory muscle training device (EMST)



Our small team of dedicated Speech Pathologists can assist in slowing the progression of the disease and provide strategies to best support your speech and swallowing skills


Spino-cerebellar does not define you, but rather your strength and courage