Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) is an inherited, debilitating, and degenerative neuromuscular disorder that is normally diagnosed during adolescence and can lead to early death. FA affects approximately 6,000 patients in the United States and 22,000 globally.
Patients with FA experience progressive loss of coordination, muscle weakness, and fatigue, which commonly progresses to motor incapacitation and wheelchair reliance. FA patients may also experience visual impairment, hearing loss, diabetes, and cardiomyopathy.
Childhood-onset FA can occur as early as age five, is more common than later-onset FA, and typically involves more rapid disease progression. The majority of FA patients have disease onset by approximately 13 to 15 years of age, and thereafter have a mean duration until wheelchair use of 10 to 15 years. The median age of death is in the mid-30s.
There is currently no known treatment for FA and current therapies are only able lessen symptoms. For more information on FA, visit Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), ww.cureFA.org