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Cerebral atrophy denotes the wasting away of the cells and tissues inside the brain. In cerebellar atrophy, the cerebellum is the part affected by shrinkage. Patients suffering from diffuse atrophy can present with many debilitating symptoms. A typical condition where diffuse cerebral atrophy and cerebellar atrophy are seen is in cases of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease is a fatal, yet rare, brain disorder that is believed to be caused by an infectious form of prion proteins. Affected individuals generally present with different manifestations corresponding to diffuse cerebral and cerebellar atrophy symptoms.
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Cerebral Atrophy Symptoms
The brain is responsible for most of the mental functioning of a person. It allows her to perform calculations, remember things, learn new ideas, formulate thoughts, make important decisions, and appreciate her senses. The brain also holds the region where emotions are processed, and some portions of the brain can affect movement and muscle tone.
Cerebral atrophy may happen gradually, as in the aging process, or it can occur progressively, in cases of Alzheimer's disease, brain injury, and other neurodegenerative conditions. The most common symptoms of cerebral atrophy are:
Dementia: Death of cells in the brain often lead to symptoms of dementia. Dementia does not only signify memory loss, but also decline in language, perception, decision making and mental ability.
Muscle Weakness: Some regions of the brain are responsible for maintaining muscle tone, and when they are affected weakness or poor muscle tones and reflexes usually results.
Aphasia: Areas in the brain that are responsible for language are frequently affected by cerebral atrophy. Affected individuals may have difficulty speaking, understanding words, writing and reading.
Seizure: Seizures usually occur due to the sudden occurrence of abnormal activities in the brain. Patients having seizures may present with convulsions, uncontrollable shaking, repetitive movements, or disorientation.
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Cerebellar Atrophy Symptoms
The cerebellum is mostly responsible for the performance of coordinated and smooth movements of the body. It also functions in equilibrium and balance, as well as in keeping the muscle tone. Symptoms of cerebellar atrophy include:
Ataxic Gait: Most patients with cerebellar atrophy manifest with ataxic gait which is seen as lurching, wide-based and staggering walking movements.
Nystagmus: Abnormal eye movements, also known as nystagmus are also seen in patients with cerebellar atrophy. It is seen as small, rapid and uncontrollable eye movements.
Hypotonia: Poor muscle tone or hypotonia is another manifestation of cerebellar atrophy, that can affect the posture and movement of the person.
Intention Tremors: Involuntary trembling of the hand when pointing or reaching an object, like a button or doorbell, is a typical example of intention tremor. The tremors usually stop when the affected hand or body part is at rest.
Asynergia: Patients with cerebellar atrophy frequently exhibit asynergia, or poor coordination of movement.