What is FA?
Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) is a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro-muscular disorder. About one in 50,000 people in the United States has Friedreich’s ataxia. It is estimated there are 4,000 individuals affected with FA in the U.S., and 15,000 affected individuals worldwide. Signs and symptoms of Friedreich’s Ataxia include, loss of coordination, (loss of coordination (ataxia) in the arms and legs, fatigue – energy deprivation and muscle loss, vision impairment, hearing loss, and slurred speech aggressive scoliosis (curvature of the spine), diabetes mellitus (insulin – dependent, in most cases), serious heart conditions, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and arrthymias. These symptoms are not present in all individuals with FA, for example diabetes occurs in about 10-20% of individuals with FA. The intellectual capabilities of people with Friedreich’s ataxia remain completely intact.