Truncal ataxia

Truncal ataxia (or trunk ataxia) is a wide-based "drunken sailor" gait characterised by uncertain starts and stops, lateral deviations and unequal steps. It is an instability of the trunk and often seen during sitting.[2] It is most visible when shifting position or walking heel-to-toe.[1]

Truncal ataxia
Other namesTrunk ataxia, Ataxic gait[1]
Caused by midline damage to the cerebellar vermis
Symptoms"drunken sailor" gait characterised by uncertain starts and stops, falling
CausesSpinocerebellar Ataxia

As a result of this gait impairment, falling is a concern in patients with ataxia.[3]

Truncal ataxia affects the muscles closer to the body such as the trunk, shoulder girdle and hip girdle. It is involved in gait stability.[3]

Truncal ataxia is different from appendicular ataxia. Appendicular ataxia affects the movements of the arms and legs. It is caused by lesions of the cerebellar hemispheres.[3]


Truncal ataxia is caused by midline damage to the cerebellar vermis. There are at least 34 conditions that cause truncal ataxia.[2]




  1. Dennis, Mark; Bowen, William Talbot; Cho, Lucy (2012-01-27). Mechanisms of Clinical Signs - E-Book. pp. 280–281. ISBN 9780729580755.
  2. "NCBI Truncal ataxia". NCBI. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  3. Blumenfeld H (2002). Neuroanatomy through clinical cases. Sunderland, Mass: Sinauer. pp. 670–671. ISBN 0-87893-060-4.
  4. "human phenotype ontology". Retrieved March 17, 2019.
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