What Is Corticobasal Ganglionic Degeneration?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 14 January 2019
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Corticobasal ganglionic degeneration is a progressive neurological disorder that causes increasing lack of control over body movements over time. This condition causes a constellation of neurological problems as parts of the basal ganglia and other areas of the brain break down. The cells in these sites atrophy, and the patient cannot recover because the damage is permanent. A number of conditions including Parkinson’s and Pick’s disease can look like corticobasal ganglionic degeneration, and sometimes the only definitive diagnosis comes at autopsy of a patient after death.

Patients in this condition experience Parkinsomism, a trembling and loss of control of the limbs. They may start to notice that their limbs move more slowly, shake when they attempt to focus on a task, or flop and jerk in spastic motions. Some patients experience what is known as “alien hand syndrome,” where they lose sense of control over their hands and feel detached from them even as the hands move, seemingly independently.

Dementia is also seen in patients with corticobasal ganglionic degeneration. This can cause issues like memory loss, emotional outbursts, and depression. Patients with degenerative neurological disorders can also be at increased risk of mental health problems associated with fear and stress as their conditions get worse. In some patients, the neurodegenerative effects can cause episodes of violence, and it may be necessary to hire a full time aide to provide care and support.


The causes of corticobasal ganglionic degeneration are not well understood. It tends to onset later in life, and may start with subtle symptoms. The progression can also be sporadic. Some patients may progress rapidly and then stop, and may experience periodic episodes of stability where the condition does not get worse. They will ultimately die of corticobasal ganglionic degeneration complications, like pneumonia caused by food aspiration, as the disease makes it difficult to swallow.

Neurologists typically supervise care for this condition. Some patients may find it helpful to seek advice and a second opinion from another practitioner to get a complete picture of their treatment options. It may also be possible to enroll in clinical trials and research studies. These can provide access to medications and treatments not yet released on the open market, and they also add to the body of knowledge about the condition, which can help with the management of patients in the future. Patients can also opt to donate their brains after death for further research.



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