What is Corticobasal Syndrome?
Corticobasal syndrome (also referred to as CBS) is a rare medical condition that for the most part affects movement abilities. CBS causes changes to occur in the brain and can also worsen the affected individual’s speech, memory, and swallowing abilities over time.
CBS is a type of atypical parkinsonism and is also called Parkinson’s-plus syndrome. This means that CBS shares specific similarities with Parkinson’s disease. It is important to note, however, that these two conditions have different underlying causes and progression. Treatment for someone living with Corticobasal syndrome will include a wide variety of medications and supportive treatments and focuses on improving the symptoms of this condition. When speech abilities are significantly affected, this can have major implications on the individual’s confidence, independence, and overall quality of life. Time with an experienced speech therapist can help someone with Corticobasal syndrome strengthen as much of their communication abilities as possible, as well as slow the loss of these skills. Get help for yourself or a loved one by scheduling your free introductory call today!
What Causes Corticobasal Syndrome?
In Corticobasal syndrome, much like other progressive and degenerative diseases, the brain deteriorates over time as the result of a buildup of a misfolded protein. Experts believe that the protein that’s involved in the development of CBS (known as tau) works typically to stabilize the cellular skeleton of the brain’s neurons. However, researchers and scientists don’t know its precise function at this time. In the case of individuals with CBS, tau is misfolded, which in turn results in its building up, which eventually damages and kills the neurons. It isn’t clear why tau is misfolded in some people but it is possibly linked to environmental changes and advancing age.
In most instances, CBS occurs randomly and thus isn’t believed to be an inherited condition. However, in very rare instances, Corticobasal syndrome can run in families which points to a possible genetic link.
What are the Symptoms and Stages of Corticobasal Syndrome?
Symptoms of CBS and the progression of this disease can vary significantly from one person to another. The preliminary signs and symptoms of Corticobasal syndrome are typically related to the impaired movement of the extremities. These most commonly present as:
- Stiffness or Rigidity of the Muscles
- Bradykinesia (slowness of movement and speed or frequent hesitations/halts)
- Apraxia (the inability to make purposeful motions such as brushing one’s teeth, buttoning a shirt, or washing one’s hands)
- Alien Hand Syndrome (when one hand appears to move on its own)
As the disease progresses, it is also common to experience the following:
- Loss of Feeling or Sensation in One or More Areas of the Body
- Uncontrolled Movements or Sudden Spasms
- Difficulties Related to Balance
- Dysarthria (Slurred Speech)
- Aphasia (Difficulty Understanding or Expressing Thoughts Verbally)
- Apraxia of Speech (Difficulty Saying What you Want to Say Despite Knowing the Right Words
- Dysphagia (Difficulty Swallowing)
In the final stages of CBS, individuals experience the following:
- Mood Shifts
- Memory Loss
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
The sooner you seek supportive therapies for someone living with Corticobasal Syndrome, the better. Don’t wait – schedule your free introductory call today!
How is Corticobasal Syndrome Treated?
Unfortunately, at this point in time, there is no known treatment that will slow down or reverse the progression of this disease. However, certain medications can help manage the symptoms.
The following therapies also help to manage CBS symptoms:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
How Does Corticobasal Syndrome Affect Speech?
The disease affects several parts of the brain that are responsible for speech, language, and communication abilities:
Cerebral Cortex: This is the outer layer of nerve tissue that aids memory, learning, voluntary movements, and the senses.
Basal Ganglia: This is a group of nerve cells within the brain and is essential for learning and executing most motor functions.
Changes in cognitive abilities are often experienced early or as the disease continues to progress. Individuals with the cognitive symptoms of Corticobasal syndrome typically experience difficulties with recalling words, conducting simple calculations, memory, planning, expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas, and understanding others.
What Speech and Language Disorders are Associated with Corticobasal Syndrome?
How Can Speech Therapy Help with Corticobasal Syndrome?
Early intervention upon a diagnosis of the disease through speech therapy has been found to aid in the delay of difficulties with verbal communication. A speech therapy program for CBS should be simple and focus on targeting functional communication as quickly and efficiently as possible.
In some cases, it may be more helpful to spend therapy appointments teaching the patient methods to compensate for speech deficits, and strategies to use when speech is no longer easily understood. Speech therapy for this disease should also include working with family members and caregivers to ensure optimal communicative effectiveness. All patients with dysarthria, regardless of the underlying cause, can benefit from these communication-centered techniques to improve their overall quality of life. Patients who receive speech therapy in the early stages of CBS may be able to continue to communicate through speech for a longer period of time. Augmentative communication will likely be necessary for the later stages of CBS. Early intervention offers the best outcome when it comes to helping individuals living with CBS improve or maintain their communication abilities. Getting started with Great Speech is as simple as scheduling your free introductory call today!