Chronic alcoholism is often linked with a disturbed gait and balance. This is most likely the result of alcohol damage to neural systems. A new study of both short- and long-term abstinence from alcohol has learned that alcoholics’ gait and balance can continue to recover with long-term abstinence from alcohol.
“Chronic alcohol abuse consistently damages the cerebellum, a complex structure located at the back of the brain below the cerebrum,” said Stan Smith, a neurobehavioral scientist and lead author of the study. “The cerebellum has multiple functions, including control of balance and coordination. Alcohol also damages subcortical white matter, the myelinated fiber tracts that connect different parts of the cortex, and other central nervous systems [such as] motor effector and feedback systems. Long-term alcohol dependence also results in impaired dopamine transmission in the striatum, an important area for motor control.”