develop at any age. It often progresses more slowly than other types of ataxia. SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES What causes ataxia? Ataxia develops when there is damage to the cerebellum (the part of the brain that coordinates movement). There are numerous causes of ataxia, either due to an acute injury or infection, or a chronic degenerative process. Doctors and researchers classify ataxia into three main categories based on what they know about the cause. These categories are: Acquired ataxia: Caused by external factors including trauma, vitamin deficiencies, exposure to alcohol or drugs, infections, or cancers. Genetic ataxia: Occurs when a person has a damaged gene that is passed down among family members. Idiopathic ataxia: Doctors cannot determine the cause of the condition.