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Initial symptoms, which typically begin at or around age 60, may first appear on one side of the body but eventually will affect both sides. Some of the symptoms, such as poor coordination and rigidity, are similar to those found in Parkinson's disease. Other symptoms may include memory loss, dementia, visual-spatial problems, apraxia (loss of the ability to make familiar, purposeful movements), hesitant and halting speech, myoclonus (involuntary muscular jerks), and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). Death is often caused by pneumonia or other secondary problems such as sepsis (severe infection of the blood) or pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lungs).
These symptoms are commonly associated with Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD), but recent research suggests that this constellation of symptoms can also be caused by other degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body disease, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), among others. Due to the overlap in symptoms that can be associated with various underlying pathologies (protein buildup), the constellation of symptoms is now dubbed "corticobasal syndrome."
Sometimes, the tau proteins and pattern of changes on autopsy in corticobasal degeneration can be associated with a different pattern of symptoms as described above. The non-fluent variant of primary progressive aphasia (a progressive language disorder) has been known to have CBD proteins upon autopsy. Similarly, behavioral changes as seen in frontotemporal dementia (FTD), motor changes as seen in PSP can be associated with CBD proteins. The knowledge about corticobasal syndrome and corticobasal degeneration is expanding with more research and understanding about the disease.