The National Ataxia Clinic in Tallaght University Hospital is the only designated centre of expertise for the diagnosis and management of Ataxia in the Republic of Ireland. It is a memebr of the European Research Network for Rare Neurological Disease (see www.ern-rnd.eu)

It provides a highly specialised service for patients with suspected or confirmed inherited (genetic) or acquired causes of ataxia. As many forms of ataxia are very rare it is vital that accurate diagnosis is facilitated by specialists with expertise in the diagnosis and management of rare forms of Ataxia.

This is a twice monthly multidisciplinary ataxia clinic, co-directed by Consultant Neurologists Prof Sinéad Murphy, Prof Richard Walsh and Dr Petya Bogdanova-Mihaylova. The clinic is also staffed by senior registers with an interest in ataxia as well as visiting research fellow. The

In Tallaght University Hospital, there is a combined Ataxia Clinic four times a year. At this clinic Dr Deirdre Ward, a cardiologist with a special interest in inherited cardiac disorders will see and assess people. A cardiac echo can be arranged on the same day thus saving patients’ additional hospital visits.

The National Ataxia Clinic provides ongoing monitoring and management and offers advice and practical support. In order to ensure continuity of care within the community services a referral to allied health professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists can also be arranged.

Developments


In July 2021, Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin appointed Dr Mary Kearney as a part-time, pro bono position as Research Fellow at the National Ataxia Unit. Currently, she is working with European Friedreich’s Ataxia Translational Studies (EFACTS) research.

One of the aims of the EFACTS project, which was initially an EU funded project is to expedite identification and recruitment of participants for clinical trials.

Dr Mary is also a patient advocate at the European Reference Network (ern-rnd.eu). She is also in regular contact with the international Friedreich’s Ataxia community. She is hopeful of attracting a clinical trial in Friedreich’s ataxia to Ireland.