Managing Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA)

Assembling the right care team is critical for patients with FA

Because FA is a multisystem disease, a broad multidisciplinary care team should be assembled as soon after diagnosis as possible. Each member of the care team can assist in symptom management to help meet the patient’s individual needs.1

Discussing healthy eating and physical activity with patients may help them achieve optimal results

Importance of healthy eating

The recommended diet for most patients with ataxia is similar to what you might expect for general healthy eating. Please be mindful that between 8% and 32% of patients with FA also have diabetes, and these patients will require dietary guidance not covered here.2

  • The goal of diet guidelines for ataxia is not to offer a cure for FA, but rather to reduce the severity of some bothersome symptoms3
  • The benefit of an ataxia diet is sound nutrition to support healthy body weight and normal bodily functions3
  • Ataxia patients may benefit from a diet that restricts simple carbohydrates and one that is high in fiber3

Along with healthy eating, some patients may benefit from taking micronutrients.3

Role of physical activity

While healthy eating is a great start, patients who include regular exercise in their routine may achieve better results. Include a physical therapist in your patient’s care team to ensure that they are instructed on exercises specifically tailored to delay the advancement of balance problems.3

information for patients about managing Friedreich’s ataxia

The Managing FA Brochure, developed for patients with FA, includes ways to have a healthy, balanced diet as well as recommended exercises patients can try.

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Learn more about specialists who may play a role in providing specialized care to patients with FA.

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Check out the FA Backgrounder to learn more about the importance of healthy eating and other specialists involved in managing the care of patients with FA.

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References: 1. Cook A, Giunti P. Friedreich’s ataxia: clinical features, pathogenesis and management. Br Med Bull. 2017;124(1):19-30. 2. Consensus clinical management guidelines for Friedreich’s ataxia. Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance website. http://curefa.org/clinical-care-guidelines. Accessed December 2, 2019. 3. Frequently asked questions about diet for ataxia. National Ataxia Foundation website. https://secureservercdn.net/166.62.112.199/y1x.318.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Ataxia_Diet_FAQ.pdf?time=1579285163. Published July 2015. Accessed December 4, 2019.

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