What is the definition of Cerebellar Multiple System Atrophy?

Multiple system atrophy - cerebellar subtype (MSA-C) is a rare disease that causes areas deep in the brain, just above the spinal cord, to shrink (atrophy). MSA-C used to be known as olivopontocerebellar atrophy (OPCA).

What are the alternative names for Cerebellar Multiple System Atrophy?

MSA-C; Cerebellar multiple system atrophy; Olivopontocerebellar atrophy; OPCA; Olivopontocerebellar degeneration

What are the causes for Cerebellar Multiple System Atrophy?

MSA-C can be passed down through families (inherited form). It can also affect people without a known family history (sporadic form).

Researchers have identified certain genes that are involved in the inherited form of this condition.

The cause of MSA-C in people with the sporadic form is not known. The disease slowly gets worse (is progressive).

MSA-C is slightly more common in men than in women. The average age of onset is 54 years old.

What are the symptoms for Cerebellar Multiple System Atrophy?

Symptoms of MSA-C tend to start at a younger age in people with the inherited form. The main symptom is clumsiness (ataxia) that slowly gets worse. There may also be problems with balance, slurring of speech, and difficulty walking.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Abnormal movements
  • Bowel or bladder problems
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Lightheadedness when standing
  • Headache while standing that is relieved by lying down
  • Muscle stiffness or rigidity, spasms, tremor
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Problems in speaking and sleeping due to spasms of the vocal cords
  • Sexual function problems
  • Abnormal sweating

What are the current treatments for Cerebellar Multiple System Atrophy?

There is no specific treatment or cure for MSA-C. The aim is to treat the symptoms and prevent complications. This may include:

  • Tremor medicines, such as those for Parkinson disease
  • Speech, occupational and physical therapy
  • Ways to prevent choking
  • Walking aids to help with balance and prevent falls

What are the support groups for Cerebellar Multiple System Atrophy?

The following groups can provide resources and support for people with MSA-C:

  • Defeat MSA Alliance -- defeatmsa.org/patient-programs/
  • The MSA Coalition -- www.multiplesystematrophy.org/msa-resources/

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Cerebellar Multiple System Atrophy?

MSA-C slowly gets worse, and there is no cure. The outlook is generally poor. But, it may be years before someone is very disabled.

What are the possible complications for Cerebellar Multiple System Atrophy?

Complications of MSA-C include:

  • Choking
  • Infection from inhaling food into the lungs (aspiration pneumonia)
  • Injury from falls
  • Nutrition problems due to difficulty swallowing

When should I contact a medical professional for Cerebellar Multiple System Atrophy?

Call your health care provider if you have any symptoms of MSA-C. You will need to be seen by a neurologist. This is a doctor who treats nervous system problems.



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Gilman S, Wenning GK, Low PA, et al. Second consensus statement on the diagnosis of multiple system atrophy. Neurology. 2008;71(9):670-676. PMID: 18725592 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18725592/.

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  • Condition: Multiple System Atrophy
  • Journal: Disability and rehabilitation
  • Treatment Used: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
In this case study, researchers evaluated the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on a patient with multiple system atrophy.
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Phase: N/A
  • Intervention Type: Biological, Behavioral, Procedure
  • Participants: 124
  • Start Date: October 28, 2020
Insulin Resistance in Multiple System Atrophy
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Phase: N/A
  • Intervention Type: Diagnostic Test, Behavioral
  • Participants: 60
  • Start Date: May 26, 2020
Natural History and Disease Progression Biomarkers of Multiple System Atrophy