Corticobasal Degeneration

1 What is Corticobasal Degeneration?

Corticobasal degeneration (CBD), as the name suggests, is a degenerative disorder that causes shrinkage of areas of your brain (including the cerebral cortex and basal ganglia).

The degenerated nerve cells die over time. Progressive degeneration of nerve cells manifest as

  • movement problems on one or both sides of your body,
  • poor coordination,
  • stiffness,
  • tremor,
  • thinking (cognitive) difficulties,
  • speech difficulty.

It’s not clear what causes this disorder. So, no cure has been discovered yet.

2 Symptoms

Some Parkinson’s like symptoms of corticobasal degeneration include:

  • Coordination problems
  • Impaired voluntary movements (Akinesia)
  • Stiffness (rigidity)
  • Balance problems
  • Sustained muscle contractions in the limb (limb dystonia)

Other symptoms may also be present, such as:

  • Problem with thinking and visual-spatial impairments
  • Apraxia (inability to make appropriate movements)
  • Involuntary muscle twitching (muscular jerks)
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • An individual with corticobasal degeneration eventually becomes unable to walk
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3 Causes

The exact cause of corticobasal degeneration (CBD) is not known.

In some cases, your genes can be blamed for this condition (familial predisposition).

4 Making a Diagnosis

Currently, there are no specific tests or universally accepted criteria for the diagnosis of corticobasal degeneration (CBD). However, your doctor can evaluate your symptoms and eliminate other possible causes such as

Your doctor may order following tests:

Psychiatric assessment and neuropsychological tests

These tests are carried out to determine your thinking ability (cognitive skills), emotional status and behavior. Your doctor can ask questions to you or your family members. 

Speech and language assessments

These assessments help to determine your communication abilities which can be severely damaged if you have neurodegenerative conditions like CBD.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

An MRI uses powerful radio waves and magnets to generate a cross-sectional image of your brain that can be evaluated by your doctor to detect abnormalities in your brain.

Computerized tomography (CT scan)

It uses numerous X-ray images to create a detailed image of your brain that can be evaluated by your doctor to detect abnormalities in your brain.

Positron emission tomography (PET) scan or single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT)

Unlike MRI or CT scans, these imaging techniques provide information on physiological and metabolic processes inside your brain.

Levodopa therapy

In this approach, you are given Parkinson’s drug levodopa and your response to the drug is assessed.

5 Treatment

Unfortunately, corticobasal degeneration cannot be slowed down with currently available treatment options and the symptoms generally do not respond to therapy.

Your doctor may recommend Parkinson’s drugs such as anticholinergics, levodopa, and dopamine agonists which are almost ineffective.

Another anti-anxiety drug clonazepam may help the myoclonus. Occupational, physical, and speech therapy can help in managing disability.

6 Risks and Complications

Risk factors for developing corticobasal degeneration include:

  • Sex: CBDG seems to be more common in women.
  • Age: Typically, CBGD develops between the ages of 50 and 80 years.
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