Corticobasal degeneration is a progressive neurological disorder characterized by nerve cell loss and atrophy (shrinkage) of multiple areas of the brain including the cerebral cortex and the basal ganglia. Corticobasal degeneration progresses gradually. Initial symptoms, which typically begin at or around age 60, may first appear on one side of the body (unilateral), but eventually affect both sides as the disease progresses. Symptoms are similar to those found in Parkinson disease, such as poor coordination, akinesia (an absence of movements), rigidity (a resistance to imposed movement), disequilibrium (impaired balance); and limb dystonia (abnormal muscle postures). Other symptoms such as cognitive and visual-spatial impairments, apraxia (loss of the ability to make familiar, purposeful movements), hesitant and halting speech, myoclonus (muscular jerks), and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) may also occur. An individual with corticobasal degeneration eventually becomes unable to walk.
There is no treatment available to slow the course of corticobasal degeneration, and the symptoms of the disease are generally resistant to therapy. Drugs used to treat Parkinson disease-type symptoms do not produce any significant or sustained improvement. Clonazepam may help the myoclonus. Occupational, physical, and speech therapy can help in managing disability.
Major Research on Disease:
There are few national and international research organizations conducting research studies on degenerative disorders such as corticobasal degeneration. The goals of these studies are to increase scientific understanding of these disorders and to find ways to prevent, treat, and cure them. Corticobasal degeneration usually progresses slowly over the course of 6 to 8 years. Death is generally caused by pneumonia or other complications of severe debility such as sepsis or pulmonary embolism.
Fourteen CBS patients meeting defined criteria were included (7 male, 7 female; mean age 66.1+/−6.9 years; median symptom duration was 35.5+/−22.6 months) and compared to 20 matched control subjects. Of the 14 patients, 4 were PiB-positive and 10 PiB-negative. There were no significant differences between PiB-positive and PiB-negative CBS patients in age, gender, education, symptom duration, or motor features. PiB-positive patients had greater visuospatial deficits, a higher rate of sentence repetition impairment, and more functional decline. Voxel-based morphometry analyses demonstrated extensive peri-insular and post-central atrophy in both groups, but PiB-positive patients had atrophy that extended to include the posterior part of the left superior temporal gyrus.