Friedreich's ataxia is an inherited disease that damages your nervous system. The damage affects your spinal cord and the nerves that control muscle movement in your arms and legs. Symptoms usually begin between the ages of 5 and 15. The main symptom is ataxia, which means trouble coordinating movements. Specific symptoms include Difficulty walking Muscle weakness Speech problems Involuntary eye movements Scoliosis Heart palpitations People with Friedreich's ataxia usually need a wheelchair 15 to 20 years after symptoms first appear. In severe cases, people become incapacitated. There is no cure. You can treat symptoms with medicines, braces, surgery and physical therapy.