Can latent class analysis be used to improve the diagnostic process in pediatric patients with chronic ataxia?
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Chronic ataxia is a challenging problem in pediatric neurology and may present with diagnostic difficulties. It is caused by a multitude of diseases and is associated with several co-morbidities such as seizures, developmental delay, feeding, and communication difficulties. The motor disability and other co-morbidities usually adversely affect essential daily activities. The clinical spectrum, etiology, natural history, and prognosis of these disorders have not been investigated systematically. The aims of this project are to: 1) Describe and quantify the clinical features of children and adolescents with chronic ataxia, 2) determine the natural history and prognosis of the various disorders causing chronic ataxia, and 3) correlate the clinical features with neuroradiological findings on MRI. Method: The project will be a large descriptive study of 184 children and adolescents with chronic ataxia in Manitoba diagnosed between 1999 and 2008. A purpose-designed database containing extensive clinical and radiological information on these patients will be utilized to conduct the research. Analysis: Qualitative and quantitative analysis using a statistical software package will be undertaken to describe the clinical data. The natural history and prognosis of the various disorders will be described. Regression analysis of the clinical and MRI data will be undertaken to ascertain important diagnostic and prognostic factors. Relevance and future directions: Research findings from this project will generate important descriptive clinical data on this important chronic and prevalent problem for the clinicians looking after these children, and more accurate prognosis so that families can plan their child's life and their lives with more certainty.