Coping with Ataxia caused by VBI


I’m an age 77 male (in 2016) diagnosed with Ataxia by a neurosurgeon in Oct. 2014 as being caused by vertebral basilar insufficiency (VBI). The diagnosis was confirmed by a brain MRI in May 2016. The MRI radiologist concluded my brain had mild small (blood) vessel inschemic disease (blockage). The neurosurgeon said the good news was that there was no evidence of a tumor. The bad news is that there was nothing he could do to correct the condition.

My VBI is expressed by these symptoms: double vision, serious loss of balance & coordination, and leg muscle weakness. The double vision (diplopia) started in 2011 and is partly corrected by prism lenses in my glasses. My inability to walk a straight line (tandem walking) started in 2010.

My own personal risk factors for VBI, which are said to be similar to those associated with developing atherosclerosis (arteries blocked with plaque) are: high blood pressure (hypertension), being over age 50, and elevated lipids (fats) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). My PCP tells me my blood pressure has been under good control with 10-mg of daily Lisinopril since Aug. 2013. My PCP also tells me my cholesterol levels have been under good control with 40-mg of daily Lovastatin since Aug. 2015.

My PCP referred me for Ataxia physical therapy starting in Nov. 2014. As a result, I’ve been performing recommended home once-daily exercises 3 - 4 days per week. The exercises are aimed at balance, ankle strength, calf muscle strength, and thigh muscle strength.

The above treatments have made no significant improvement to my condition and I am worried that I will fall and seriously injure myself. A close friend of mine fell to the ground, injuring himself, last year and died that day! Fortunately, so far I have fallen only once in 2012 where I tripped and fell on my left hip, causing only temporary minor pain and limping. Since then, as my condition worsens, I have had to SLOW DOWN and religiously use hand-rails. I’ve just about forgotten about the agility of my life before 2010.

I welcome any comments or advice from others in this community regarding this condition.


Hi Kent, welcome :blush:
You may be the first person on this site to have the specific diagnosis of ataxia caused by VBI🤔

But, the actual symptoms you experience and the challenges that face you are familiar.

We are all generally advised to exercise within caperbility and keep as mobile as possible, I know from my own experience
how easy it is for stiffness to set in, and then it’s like starting from scratch to get mobile again :smirk: And, I’ve had my share of falls but luckily no breakages.

If you’d like to read info about ataxia, see www.ataxia.org and www.ataxiacenter.umn.edu

Replies to posts on our site may be slow because we recently changed to a new format which has been challenging :wink:



Thanks for the reply, Beryl-Park. That’s the main reason I posted on the site, because no one seemed to have my specific diagnosis…Kent