Corticobasal Degeneration: When it looks, sounds, and acts like Parkinson’s… but it’s not.

What is Corticobasal Degeneration?

Corticobasal degeneration (CBD) is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease. As defined by the
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), CBD is a neurological disorder that is characterized by cerebralcortex_basalganglianerve cell loss and shrinkage of multiple areas of the brain including the cerebral cortex and basal ganglia. Much like other neurodegenerative diseases, CBD is progressive, gradually worsening over time.

CBD classically presents itself as a movement disorder, typically affecting one side of the body before the other, but can also impact cognition. Since some symptoms can mirror those of Parkinson’s, one of the most useful signs of Corticobasal degeneration is apraxia. Apraxia refers to an individual’s inability to perform certain movements not because of physical muscle damage, but due to neurological damage.

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Other symptoms include difficulty controlling the muscles of the face and mouth, stiffness, shakiness, and slowness in either the upper or lower extremities, difficulty with speech and articulation, and memory and/or behavioral problems. These symptoms usually occur around the age of 60, although, symptom onset can be as early as 40.

“CBS (corticobasal syndrome) and Parkinson’s disease can clinically be difficult to distinguish but have very different underlying pathologies,” explained David Irwin, MD, Instructor of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania. “Current research efforts are focused on differentiating the underlying diseases (differentiating inclusions formed from alpha-synuclein, tau, amyloid and TDP-43) to help direct promising therapies targeting these proteins.”

While occupational, physical, and speech therapy can help manage CBD, there is currently no cure or treatment to slow the progression of the disease, and most symptoms are generally resistant to possible therapeutic strategies.

You can find more information on CBD at:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Penn’s Frontotemporal Degeneration Center


The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration


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