SCA is a genetically inherited brain and spinal cord disorder. People with SCA experience spinal cord and brain degeneration. This disorder is part of a group of disorders that are inherited as a dominant trait. This means that people who have the disorder are at a fifty-percent chance of passing SCA to a child.
Patients with SCA experience an atrophy of the brainstem affecting the cerebellum. The cerebellum is responsible for proper coordination and movement of the body. This degeneration of the brainstem and consequently, the spine can lead to spasticity. Spasticity is an unusual pulling or stiffness and is associated with paralysis, hypertonia, and increased reflexes in tendons.