The University of Chicago Ataxia Center was modeled after the University of Minnesota Ataxia Clinic established by Dr. Christopher Gomez in 1991 as a specialty clinic devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and management of ataxias. Dr. Gomez has over 20 years of expertise in the evaluation and treatment of patients with diverse forms of degenerative ataxia. This experience coincides with the era of an enormous explosion of genetic discovery, paving the way for understanding disease pathogenesis, the necessary prerequisite for developing rational therapies. In January 2006 Dr. Gomez assumed the Chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Chicago and later that year assembled a team of specialists needed to establish the new University of Chicago Ataxia Center.
The founding principle of the University of Chicago Ataxia Center is that patients with the many types of rare ataxic gait and balance disorders can benefit from the enlarging experience of multidisciplinary specialists devoted their care. We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment, as well as prevention and management of complications affecting this group of patients. All patients presenting with progressive problems of gait and balance, falling, or vertigo are seen at the University of Chicago Ataxia Center. The Ataxia Center receives referrals predominantly from internists and neurologists in the Chicago area. However, patients are regularly referred from adjoining Midwest states and from throughout the US and continent. Occasional referrals to the Ataxia Center team have come from the Middle East, Asia and South America.
In the past twenty years there has been an explosion of genetic discovery that has revolutionized our understanding and approach to diagnosis of ataxia. A total of 28 distinct forms of autosomal dominant ataxia, at least 10 forms of recessive ataxia and several x linked forms have been discovered (see below). Patients are provided with the most current genetic testing available.