Corticobasal Syndrome (CBS) – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

corticobasal syndrome CBS

A rare progressive neurological disorder, corticobasal syndrome (CBS) is a condition that causes changes in language skills, movement, or both.

What is Corticobasal Syndrome?

It is one of the illnesses that has caught the attention of behavioral neurologists and movement disorder specialists.

Also known as CBD (corticobasal degeneration) it may start with issues such as stiff muscles on one side of the body involving a leg, arm, or both.

Such motor abnormalities include apraxia which is the inability to perform voluntary or purposeful movements and muscle rigidity.

Persons with this condition often complain about having trouble controlling their arms or legs.

Historically, CBD was recognized as a neurological condition that was mostly associated with movement disorders.

However, in recent years, research has revealed that behavioral and cognitive abnormalities occur more often than what was believed.

In some cases, dementia warning signs may precede the development of motor symptoms.

The initial cognitive symptoms may include impairments in executive function, progressive aphasia, and loss of intellectual abilities.

CBS was first described in 1968 by Rebeiz and colleagues. Most people will this condition will start showcasing symptoms around the age of 60 but some will have the warning signs earlier.

What Causes Corticobasal Syndrome

what causes CBS
Scientists are yet to identify the exact cause of CBS.

Experts, however, know that in some individuals with the condition, there is usually a large build-up of tau.

This is a type of protein that usually occurs in the brain, but it is not clear why it at times builds-up in large amounts.

The function of tau within the nerve cells is quite complex and experts do not fully understand it.

It is, however, thought that tau is essential for the normal functioning of brain cells.

The abnormal tau levels in various brain cells result in their deterioration. The specific role that tau plays in the development of corticobasal syndrome is not yet clear.

Tau abnormalities are observed in numerous neurodegenerative brain disorders like Pick’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17), Niemann-Pick disease type C, and progressive supranuclear palsy.

Collectively, these disorders are known as “tauopathies.”

Large build-up of amyloid plaques

Some people with CBS also have a large build-up of amyloid plaques which are similar to those present in individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

The excessive accumulation of these proteins in the nerve cells is quite dangerous because it results in brain cells losing their ability to function normally, and they die off eventually.

As a result, the affected sections of the brain will start to shrink.

Researchers believe that several factors contribute to the development of CBD.

These include a combination of multiple environmental, genetic, and factors that relate to aging.

A person develops corticobasal degeneration symptoms due to the progressive deterioration of tissue in various areas of the brain.

The loss of nerve cells happens in specific areas resulting in shrinkage or atrophy in specific brain lobes.

The type and severity of symptoms that a person will get will depend on the section of the brain that has been affected by the condition.

Moreover, the 2 areas of the brain that are mostly affected include basal ganglia and cerebral cortex, but some other areas may also be affected.

The cerebral cortex is mostly involved with higher functions of the brain including learning, memory, voluntary movement, and sensory information coordination.

The basal ganglia can be described as a cluster of nerve cells that is responsible for learning and motor functions.

Symptoms of Corticobasal Syndrome

symptoms of corticobasal syndrome
Trouble with movement is normally the first warning sign of CBS.

It may include poor coordination or trouble accomplishing simple goal-oriented activities like buttoning a shirt, gesturing with hands, or combing hair amongst others.

This symptom may start with one leg, arm, or hand. The limbs might shake and feel stiff.

Persons with this condition may experience movement that is slower than usual, go through changes in the feelings of the limbs or have a hard time making their limbs move.

As time goes by, moving around becomes harder.

In most cases, the symptoms will start on one side of the body and slowly move to the other side.

Other symptoms

Additional symptoms might include a slight tremor when a person is in a particular position or while performing a certain task.

Limb dystonia may also occur sometimes.

Dystonia describes a group of neurological conditions that are characterized by involuntary muscle contractions.

These put certain parts of the body into abnormal and sometimes painful positions and movements.

Affected persons may also experience contractures which is a condition where a joint becomes permanently fixed in an extended or bent position.

This can partially or completely restrict the movement of the joint that has been affected.

Alien limb phenomenon is also common in persons with CBS where a limb will carry out actions or assume certain positions without the awareness of the affected person.

Some individuals will also go through jerky or lightning-like movements.

Communication can become difficult

Language problems may also start to develop as the disease progresses.

Individuals may have challenges naming people and objects, finding the right words to speak, or just getting the words out mostly because of the problems with the muscles that help with speech.

After some time, people with malady may not be in a position to communicate effectively. Reading skills may start to diminish while writing can become harder especially if the movement symptoms have affected the hands.

Some people with CBD may also suffer problems with swallowing, uncoordinated walk, or inability to control eyelid blinking.

Others with CBS may also experience visuospatial difficulties or challenges seeing things and understanding their right place in space.

Persons with these challenges will have a difficult time locating things in space, grasping complex visual arrays like a cupboard, and judging distances while driving.

Individuals with the condition may also have a hard time with number knowledge and calculations.

It is also common for persons with CBS to develop memory problems where they keep repeating questions or misplace objects.

Later in the course of the illness, persons may experience personality changes.

This is where persons may exhibit disinhibition, reduced attention span, irritability, apathy, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Some even get into the habit of saying inappropriate things. Others will experience difficulties when trying to move or open their eyes.

Eventually, persons with CBS might become bed-ridden and they may be susceptible to life-threatening complications like bacterial infections, pneumonia, blood infections, or blockage of one or more main arteries to the lungs primarily because of blood clots.

Keep in mind that the progression, severity, presentation, and symptoms of this disease vary greatly from one person to another.


diagnosis of cbs
A positive diagnosis for corticobasal degeneration is suspected when characteristic neurologic warning signs occur progressively in the absence of a structural lesion like a tumor or stroke.

It is normally challenging to distinguish corticobasal degeneration from other related neurodegenerative disorders.

Currently, there are no tests for CBS.

A clinical diagnosis is done based on the pattern of symptoms and extensive neurological exam involving multiple specialized tests and these include:

An EEG (electroencephalogram)

This is a test that measures the brain’s electrical activity.

Imaging Techniques

CT (computerized tomography) and MRI ( magnetic resonance imaging) are helpful when it comes to ruling out other medical conditions. They also come in handy when the doctor wants to view brain tissue degeneration within the basal ganglia and cerebral cortex.


This technique measure the amount of dopamine which is a chemical that the brain makes.

Neuropsychological testing

It is where professionals conduct various memory tests with pictures and words. These are exclusive to evaluate the extent of a person’s symptoms and the impact they have on mental abilities.

The tests look into multiple abilities like concentration, numbers, counting, memory, understanding language, and how a person processes vital details such as words and pictures.

Diagnosis is also done to rule out other medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms like Alzheimer’s disease, motor neuron disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

It is important that a consultant with expertise in corticobasal degeneration confirms the diagnosis.

Most of the time, this will be a neurologist who is an expert in conditions that affect the nerves and brain.

In the majority of cases, the confirmation of the diagnosis is only possible once professionals conduct autopsy examinations of the brain.

This shows “ballooned” protein, neurons aggregations, and other characteristic abnormalities that are as a result of an abnormal build-up of tau protein.

Treatment Options

treatment options for cbs cbd
There is still no approved cure for the corticobasal syndrome. Nonetheless, there are several treatments that can benefit persons with the disease, and these include:


Doctors can prescribe medication that can help manage the symptoms. Examples of these drugs include cholinesterase inhibitors which are helpful if a person with CBS is having memory problems.

The most common medicines that persons take include rivastigmine, donepezil, and galantamine.

For the movement symptoms, an individual may be treated with drugs that are used for persons with Parkinson’s disease.

These include carbidopa or levodopa but the effects of the drugs are subject to research.

Physicians may also recommend drugs to help deal with other issues like incontinence and bladder problems, sleeping problems, anxiety, pain, and bone strength.

It is also important for physicians to treat any existing conditions that affect the brain.

These include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Eating Right and Working Out

Research indicates that getting physically active helps to improve brain health, general fitness, and mood.

Getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and limiting alcohol intake also helps to promote good health.

Alternative Therapies

Several therapies can help people with CBS and these include:

Speech and Language Therapy

It can help enhance communication between people with the condition and others. The experts can also help manage swallowing problems.

Physical Therapy

This in addition to stretching exercises can help ease movement challenges by maintaining the range of motion and mobility of rigid stiffened joints as well as preventing the development of contractures.

Occupational Therapy

It may be useful in assessing the safety of an affected individual’s home as well as determining the adaptive medical equipment that may boost a person’s independence. That’s when occupational therapy comes into play. Affected people may need to use devices like a walker or a crane to assist in walking.

Cognitive Stimulation

This comes in handy for persons with CBS but is showcasing dementia symptoms. This type of therapy involves engaging in exercises and activities that aim to enhance language ability, problem-solving skills, and memory.

Palliative Care and Advanced Care Planning

Palliative care is normally offered to relieve pain as well as other distressing symptoms a person may be facing while offering spiritual, social, and psychological support.

This can be beneficial at any stage of CBD alongside other treatments. An individual can receive this type of care at home, in a hospital, or at a hospice.

Advanced care planning is where persons with the corticobasal syndrome will make plans for the future highlighting their wishes in regards to medical care and other important decisions.

Affected individuals share the plans with their family members and health professionals who are taking care of them.

Seeing that this is quite a rare condition, clinical trials may at times not be available for persons seeking them.

CBS Prognosis

CBS prognosis
Corticobasal degeneration is a condition that changes over time and is believed to affect females and males equally.

An individual with the disease can live for years after a positive diagnosis. Symptoms of the conditions tend to worsen over 3-8 years and often cause great disability.

Research suggests that a majority of affected individuals live for about 6-8 years on average although this varies from one person to the next.

Closing Thoughts

Even though currently there are no therapies or treatments that can reverse or slow down the progression of corticobasal syndrome, there is still hope.

Scientists reckon that the biology of CBS may be similar to that of other neurodegenerative diseases.

It is possible that therapies that are useful for these conditions can be helpful to persons with corticobasal degeneration.

Stroke-Related Dementia: What Is It?

stroke-related dementia

When learning about the various types of dementia, it is important to talk about stroke-related dementia.

This is dementia that develops after the brain has been damaged by a stroke.

What is stroke-related dementia?

Strokes happen when there is an interruption of blood flow to the brain causing blood vessels to burst.

Worth noting is that not everyone who experiences a stroke will end up with dementia.

Strokes are normally associated with vascular dementia which is the second most common type of dementia.

In short, dementia is a general term describing problems with memory, planning, judgment, reasoning, and other thought processes.

Symptoms of Stroke-Related Dementia

symptoms of stroke-related dementia
The symptoms of this kind of dementia can appear suddenly, after a few days, weeks, or months in a gradual or stepwise manner.

The symptoms that a person will get depend on the kind of stroke they experienced as well as the section of the brain that has been damaged.

Cognitive decline normally happens within three months of a recognized stroke.

Examples of some warning signs of vascular dementia include:

  • Loss of memory especially with remembering recent events
  • Problems following instruction, inattention, and poor concentration
  • Poor judgment
  • Confusion
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Challenges with problem-solving, reasoning, and calculations
  • Depression
  • Mood and behavior changes
  • Crying or laughing inappropriately
  • Psychosis: loss of contact with reality, aggression, hallucinations, agitation, delusions, and inability to appropriately relate with other people and surroundings

The Diagnosis Process

the diagnosis process of stroke-related dementia
It is not easy for medics to diagnose stroke-related dementia.

This is because several medical conditions can cause an individual to experience dementia-like symptoms.

Doctors have to identify the cause of the symptoms to determine whether or not a person has dementia.

It is important because there are some causes of dementia that are reversible with treatment.

The diagnosis process is not an easy one.

Health care providers will gather details from different sources to come up with the proper diagnosis.

They usually start with a medical interview where the doctor will ask questions like:

  • When the symptoms appeared
  • Past and recent medical problems
  • Medications a person is taking or was taking in the past
  • Lifestyles and habits

Physicians also conduct physical examinations to look for physical disabilities as well as signs of underlying conditions like previous strokes, high blood pressure, or heart and blood vessel diseases.

Doctors will also include mental status examinations to check memory, orientation, language, and attention.

Some professional practitioners will as well conduct neuropsychological testing which is a detailed cognitive assessment that helps them pinpoint and document an individual’s cognitive strengths and problems.

A doctor may also recommend laboratory tests such as blood tests to rule out blood disorders, infections, hormonal disorders, chemical abnormalities, and kidney or liver problems.

The lab tests are also important for identifying other health issues like diabetes and various vascular disorders that might underlie dementia.

Imaging studies can also be done to help detect stroke and rule out other conditions that can cause dementia.

Treatment Options for Stroke-Related Dementia

treatment options for stroke related dementia
Sadly, treatments currently available cannot reverse brain damage that is caused by strokes if the injury has lasted for a few hours.

Treatment aims at enhancing vascular health in a bid to prevent the occurrence of new strokes and slow down the progression of cognitive decline and other related symptoms.

Treatment options include surgery, medication, and behavioral interventions.

Multi-Infarct Dementia: What Is It?

multi-infarct dementia

A kind of dementia, multi-Infarct dementia (MID) is a type of vascular dementia that is caused by multiple strokes.

It is also considered to be the second-most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

The strokes interrupt blood flow to the brain, which ends up affecting how the organ functions.

A brain infarct or stroke happens due to the block or interruption of blood flow to any part of the brain.

Everything You Need To Know About Multi-Infarct Dementia

Blood transports oxygen and other essential nutrients to the brain. When the brain lacks oxygen, it causes the death of brain tissues.

Multi-Infract imply that multiple areas in the brain have been injured because of lack of blood from a series of small strokes.

There are times when blockages of the brain cause an infarction (stroke) without any stroke symptoms.

These are known as “silent” strokes which are known to increase an individual’s risk of getting vascular dementia.

If someone experiences a series of small strokes over time, they may end up developing infarct dementia.

Symptoms of Multi-Infarct Dementia

symptoms of multi-infarct dementia
The type of symptoms a person gets often depends on the area of the brain that the stroke has damaged.

At times the symptoms appear suddenly after a stroke or they may appear slowly over time.

We can categorize MID warning signs into two major sections as seen below.

Early Dementia Symptoms

  • Loss of executive function
  • Getting lost in familiar places or wandering
  • Short-term memory loss or confusion
  • Losing bowel or bladder control
  • Walking with shuffling rapid steps
  • Crying or laughing inappropriately
  • Challenges performing routine tasks like paying bills
  • Personality changes
  • Losing interest in activities or things that were previously enjoyed

Late-Stage Symptoms

As the disease progresses, a person may also experience other symptoms such as:

Some individuals may go through periods where they seem to improve and then decline after experiencing small strokes.

MID Risk Factors

MID risk factors of multi Infarct dementia
Some of the risk factors that increase a person’s risk of getting this disease include:

Medical Conditions

Diabetes, heart failure, previous strokes, atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, cognitive decline prior to the stroke, and hardening of the arteries are some of the medical conditions that increase the risk of MID.


Increasing age is a common risk factor for all types of dementia including MID.

The disease mostly affects persons who are between the ages of 60-75. In some rare cases, some people get the illness before they celebrate their 60th birthday.

Research also shows that men are slightly more likely to develop the disease than women.

Lifestyle Risk Factors

These include alcohol consumption, smoking, little to no physical activity, poor diet, and low level of education.

Diagnosing Multi-Infarct Dementia

diagnosing multi infarct dementia
There is no single test that can determine whether a person has MID or not. Worth noting is that each MID case is not the same.

One person may experience severe memory impairment while another individual may only experience mild memory loss.

Diagnosis can also be difficult because it is possible for a person to have both Alzheimer’s disease and MID making it challenging for a doctor to diagnose either of the diseases.

Medics base diagnosis on a number of factors such as:

  • History of stepwise mental decline
  • Blood pressure reading
  • Neurological exam
  • Blood tests
  • Physical Exams: this is where the doctor will ask questions pertaining to diet, sleep patterns, medications, past strokes, personal habits, stressful events, recent illness, and other medical issues.
  • Ruling out other causes of dementia like depression, diabetes, anemia, high cholesterol, brain tumors, carotid stenosis, chronic infections, thyroid disease, drug intoxication, vitamin deficiency, and high blood pressure.
  • Radiological imaging tests such as X-rays, CT & MRI scans that detail tiny areas of tissue that died from lack of adequate blood supply, electroencephalograms that measure the electrical activity of the brain, and transcranial doppler that is used to measure the velocity of blood flow through the blood vessels in the brain

MID Treatment Options

MID treatment options
Currently, there is no treatment for multi-infarct dementia.

Experts have not yet discovered how to reverse brain damage that occurs after a stroke. Treatment options mainly focus on preventing strokes from reoccurring in the future.

This is done by putting in place measures to avoid or control the medical conditions and diseases that put individuals at risk of experiencing strokes.

Stroke risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and high cholesterol.

Treatment is also tailored to a person’s individual and most of them will include:


Doctors may prescribe certain medications to help improve symptoms such as:

  • Folic acid
  • Memantine
  • Hydergine
  • Nimodipine
  • Angiotensin: these help to lower blood pressure by converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Calcium channel blockers that help with short-term cognitive function
  • Some serotonin reuptake inhibitors that are antidepressants which may help neurons grow in a bid to re-establish connections in the brain

Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Practicing healthy habits is also key when it comes to MID treatment and some of them include:

Alternative Therapies

Herbal supplements are also common when it comes to treating MID. However, more studies are still necessary to prove their efficiency.

Some of the herbal supplements that are being studied for use in MID treatment are:

  • Lemon Balm: A great alternative to restore memory
  • Wormwood: It enhances cognitive function
  • Water Hyssop: Used to improve intellectual function and memory

It is important to consult a doctor before taking any supplements to be on the safe side.

Other treatment options include rehabilitation therapy for mobility problems and cognitive training to help regain mental function.

Caregiver Support

Relatives and friends of persons with MID can help them cope with their physical and mental problems.

This can be done by encouraging regular physical and social activities as well as daily routines to help reinforce mental abilities.

Alarm clocks, calendars, and lists are useful when it comes to reminding the affected persons of important events and times.

MID Prognosis

MID prognosis
The prognosis for persons with multi-infarct dementia is not clear.

This is mostly because the symptoms of the disease can appear all over sudden after each small stroke mostly in a step-wise pattern.

Some individuals with the disorder can appear to improve after some time and then decline after experiencing silent strokes.

The disease will spiral downwards with intermittent periods of fast deterioration. Some people may die after a MID diagnosis while others will survive many years.

Death may also occur from heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, or other infections.

Post-Stroke Dementia and Cognitive Impairment

post-stroke dementia

After suffering a stroke, many people will end up with post-stroke dementia (PSD).

This can be any type of dementia from Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, degenerative dementia, mixed dementia or stroke-related dementia.

Post-Stroke Dementia Review

PSD is a common occurrence after a stroke covering for about 6%-32% of the cases.

However, not everyone who has suffered a stroke will end up with dementia.

Others will experience a degree of cognitive impairment that is not severe enough to be categorized as PSD.

ResearchGate reveals that many people will experience mild cognitive impairment after a stroke which may or may not progress to dementia.

Cognitive Impairments

Cognitive impairments are generally divided into several domains that include:


This can generally be defined as shifting, focusing, sustaining, or dividing attention on a particular task or stimulus.

Executive Function

This has a lot to do with abstract thinking, planning, conflict monitoring, inhibition, and organization of thoughts.


This mostly affects a person’s ability to recognize or recall verbal or visual information.


It primarily affects an individual’s ability to be receptive or express themselves through language i.e. reading and writing comprehension.

Social Cognition

This defines the recognition of a person’s or other people’s emotional state as well as an understanding of the mind’s theory.

Perception and Praxis

For the most part, it primarily affects visuospatial abilities, apraxia, prosopagnosia, and agnosia.

Post-stroke cognitive impairment (PSCI) can be described as a failure in the cognitive domain that happens after a stroke.

Cognitive impairment is a threat to post-stroke recovery for persons of all ages. It can compromise a person’s ability to continue working hence the need to be dependent on others at an early stage.

Unlike physical disability that is caused by stroke, cognitive function normally becomes worse over time.

While cognitive problems usually become worse during the first months after a stroke, there is a chance they can become better as the brain starts to become more active in trying to repair itself.

It is a complicated process because recovery can start to slow down after six months.

Even when cognitive problems do not go away completely, they normally get easier to live with.

This is especially the case when cognitive issues do not lead to dementia.

What Causes Cognitive Impairment

what causes cognitive impairment
Cognitive issues occur because of the damages that happen to the brain.

Different brain sections are responsible for controlling different aspects.

If one of the areas that control cognition is damaged by stroke, this can affect the way a person does certain things.

Cognitive challenges are quite common after a person experiences post-stroke dementia.

Risk Factors for Post-Stroke Cognitive Impairment

risk factors for post stroke cognitive impairment
After a stroke, the risk factors for cognitive impairment are usually associated with an overlap of dementia and frequent cerebrovascular diseases.

Some of them include:

1. Age: this is a risk factor for both cognitive decline and dementia. The prevalence of cognitive decline increases significantly after the age of 65 according to research by the American Stroke Association.

2. Vascular risk factors like diabetes, smoking, hypertension, and atrial fibrillation increase the risk of cognitive impairment.

3. Recurring strokes are also documented as a risk factor for cognitive impairment.

4. Education level: this is a conflicting risk factor with some studies suggesting that higher education is related to better cognitive performance.

Diagnosing Cognitive Impairment after Stroke

diagnosing cognitive impairment after stroke
A neuropsychological examination is one of the methods that is used to assess cognition after a person suffers from a stroke.

In clinical practices, this is conducted from one week to a month after the stroke.

It is different when it comes to research because the examination is performed three months after a stroke.

In some cases, it may not be possible to conduct a neuropsychological examination for persons who have had a stroke because they may be too fatigued or disabled to go through with it.

Shorter screening tests are done as an alternative in such cases for both research and clinical purposes.

Early detection of cognitive impairment is critical because it may help reduce the chances of progressing to post-stroke dementia.

Treatment and Management Options

treatment and management of post-stroke dementia
When it comes to treating cognitive impairment caused by post-stroke dementia, the main options include strategies that range from preventing white matter changes, new strokes, to treating underlying vascular risk factors hypertension.

Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia

behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia

Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (BvFTD) is one of the most common types of dementia that is called FTD (frontotemporal dementia).

It accounts for around half of the cases of this disease.

What is BvFTD

Brain condition called FTLD (frontotemporal lobar degeneration) causes FTD. BvFTD is a kind of frontotemporal dementia because it affects the temporal and frontal lobes of the brain.

Another name for the disease is also Pick’s disease. Some doctors also use terms frontotemporal disorder or frontal lobe disorder.

The brain’s frontal lobe controls essential facets of daily life such as emotional control, judgment, behavior, planning, multitasking, inhibition, and executive function.

The temporal lobe, on the other hand, primarily affects language, behavior, and emotional response.

Symptoms of Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia

symptoms of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia
The symptoms of BvFTD start mildly and progressively become worse over time.

The rate of progression, however, varies from one person to another. A person may experience various emotional and behavioral issues like:

  • Withdrawal from social interaction
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Abrupt mood changes
  • Difficulty keeping a job
  • Disinterest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Inappropriate or compulsive behavior
  • Apathy
  • Hoarding
  • Repetitiveness

An individual with BvFTD may also experience neurological and language changes such as:

The symptoms of this type of dementia usually start showing for people who are between 40-60 years.

In some cases, they can be seen in persons who are as young as 20 years.

Most people with frontotemporal dementia are between ages 45-64.

Persons with Pick’s disease rarely recognize when they change their behaviors or the effect this has on others around them.

Causes of BvFTD

causes of bvFTD
Frontotemporal dementia is normally caused by abnormal amounts of tau which is a kind of nerve cell protein.

These proteins exist in all nerve cells.

If a person has Pick’s disease, the proteins will accumulate into clumps in the brain’s temporal and frontal lobe which can result in the death of cells.

After the cells die, the brain tissue will start to shrink which will result in dementia symptoms.

It is not yet clear what causes the formation of these abnormal proteins in the nerve cells.

Some studies indicate that genetics play a role in the development of this kind of dementia.

This is because about 40% of people with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia usually have a family history of at least one relative who has been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease.

For the rest of the people, the development of this type of dementia is known to be sporadic. It does not relate to genetics, as none of their relatives has FTD.

Stages of Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia

stages of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia
BvFTD usually occurs in three main stages as explained below.

Early Stage BvFTD

The early stages of FTD usually have some unique features. At this stage, memory loss is usually not prevalent.

A person may, however, experience changes in social and personal behavior. Most individuals will start to disregard social boundaries or start engaging in activities that may be deemed inappropriate.

They can end up behaving carelessly, impulsively, and in some cases criminally.

The ability to handle money may deteriorate and the concern for other peoples’ feelings may start to diminish.

Misdiagnosis also occurs often during this initial stage. This is because a specialist can easily misdiagnose or overlook it as a psychiatric condition.

Middle Stage BvFTD

In the middle stage, the symptoms of BvFTD become more similar to those of frontotemporal dementia.

They may even resemble those of other types of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.

At this point, people with progressive disease may require some assistance with day to day activities like bathing, dressing, and grooming.

Disturbances of behavior became more consistent.

Most people will also start developing language problems.

Late-Stage BvFTD

The final stage of the illness is usually the most challenging. Language and behavior problems become worse and memory deterioration also happens fast.

For most people, it may be necessary to have round-the-clock care to ensure adequate safety and care.

BvFTD Diagnosis

bvFTD diagnosis
Diagnosis for Pick’s disease (or BvFTD) is usually not an easy task, especially in the early stages.

Many times, medics can misdiagnose it for other conditions like depression, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, vascular dementia, drug or alcohol dependence, or other psychiatric disorders.

The symptoms a person showcases and the results of neurological examinations are key to behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia diagnosis.

Glucose positron emission scans and brain scans like MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) are also helpful in the diagnosis process.

These must, nonetheless, be interpreted in the context of an individual’s neurological exam and medical history.

Treatment Options

treatment options for bvftd
Currently, the FDA has not approved any medication that can be used to treat BvFTD.

In a majority of the cases, it may not be possible to slow down the progression of symptoms.

Environmental and behavioral interventions are considered some of the most effective options for managing symptoms.

Experts advocate for the use of distracting and reassuring tactics instead of challenging disruptive behaviors that can lead to more agitation.

Some doctors can also recommend pharmacological measures to help relieve distressing symptoms. The role of medication in frontotemporal dementia intervention is still not clear.

Selective SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are used to treat challenging behaviors.

Antipsychotics like olanzapine have been used on individuals suffering from prominent psychosis and agitation.

Studies are, however, on-going to try and introduce an effective treatment option for BvFTD.

Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia Prognosis

behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia prognosis
Years after positive BvFTD diagnosis, affected persons usually start to showcase problems with coordination and muscle weakness.

This can leave a person bedbound or needing a wheelchair.

The problems can result in difficulties with chewing, swallowing – eating in general – controlling bladder/bowels, and moving.

In the long run, persons with frontotemporal degenerations die because of physical changes that cause lung, skin, or urinary tract infections.

From the onset of symptoms, the average life expectancy is approximately 8-9 years. Some people may live up to 20 years or more with this progressive disease.

Difference Between Cortical and Subcortical Dementia

cortical and subcortical dementia

An in-depth look at the differences and similarities between cortical and subcortical dementia and what you should do about it.

Also known as a major neurocognitive disorder, dementia is a group of symptoms that causes problems with memory, reasoning, and thinking.

It occurs when parts of the brain responsible for memory, decision-making, language, and learning are diseased or damaged.

The illness mostly affects elderly persons who are above the age of 65.

Some persons will, however, receive dementia diagnosis when they are younger.

There are over fifty causes of dementia the most common ones being:

Cortical vs Subcortical Dementia

Depending on the part of the brain that has been affected, a majority of dementias are either considered to exhibit cortical or subcortical patterns.

Initially, subcortical dementia was described in 1912. However, the term was not used until 1970.

Cortical dementia, on the other hand, accounts for the highest number of dementia cases (between 60-80%).

Various studies indicate that there are some prominent differences between cortical and subcortical dementia.

Both qualitative and quantitative differences exist across several cognitive domains like memory, visuospatial abilities, executive functions, attention, and semantic knowledge.

Let’s look at some of the disparities between the two groups of dementias below.


Cortical dementia describes the types of dementia that develop as a result of disorders that affect the cerebral cortex in the brain.

This is the outermost layer of the brain responsible for several essential functions like language, memory, creativity, abstraction, emotion, attention and judgment.

The illnesses that are progressive in nature starts to cause changes in the brain before the symptoms start showing up.

Experts believe that the illness brings about an increase in the number of lesions in the brain, which then leads to complications like personality changes and loss of memory.

Subcortical dementias represent the types of dementias that showcase themselves without any language or memory problems in individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease.

Disorders that affect the section of the brain that is below the cerebral cortex cause this dementia.

The regions of the brain that this type of dementia affects include the midbrain, striatum, thalamus, and striatofrontal projections.

In most cases, persons who get subcortical dementia display challenges with concentration, attention, and motor function.

Causes Cortical and Subcortical Dementia

Cortical dementia as aforementioned, occurs where there are problems with the cerebral cortex.

Additionally, it is primarily associated with the gray matter in the brain, which mainly consists of nerve cells.

Persons who develop this type of dementia experience serious memory loss issues where they cannot understand language or remember words.

Examples of cortical dementia include Creutzfeldt-Jakob and Alzheimer’s disease.

Subcortical dementia, on the other hand, is brought about when there are problems in the part of the brain located under the cortex.

This is mostly associated with the white matter of the brain that predominantly consists of axons that are in charge of transmitting signals.

Individuals who have this type of dementia typically show changes in their ability to start activities and speed of thinking. HIV, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease are possible causes of this dementia type.

Some studies also suggest that prolonged alcohol abuse may be the cause of subcortical dementia.

This is because persons who are diagnosed with alcohol dependence have a significant reduction in the brain’s white matter and the weight of the brain also becomes lighter.

Features of Cortical and Subcortical Dementia

features of cortical and subcortical dementia
Both dementias showcase different features that further explain their main differences like:

Basic function deficit

With cortical dementia, you can expect specific deficits like aphasia, which is an impairment of language that affects comprehension or production of speech and the ability to write and read.

Apraxia affects motor function and agnosia, which affects the ability to process sensory information.

Subcortical dementia presents progressive supra-nuclear palsy, a syndrome that can lead to severe problems with eye movement, balance, swallowing, mood and walking, etc.

Memory impairment

Persons with cortical dementia will often experience learning deficits and poor recognition. Individuals with subcortical dementia do not go through severe memory loss issues.

Caregivers and loved ones can use cues to help the affected individuals recall information without too much difficulty.

Motor Symptoms

motor symptoms
Cortical dementia does not showcase any motor symptoms, especially in the early stages of the illness. Motor speed also remains relatively healthy, but it might change at a later course.

Problems with motor symptoms are common with subcortical dementia that presents extrapyramidal symptoms that can include continuous muscle contractions and spasms also known as dystonia, motor restlessness, rigidity, slowness of movement, and tremor amongst others.


Individuals with subcortical dementia, for the most part, will have normal speech while it may be slow or abnormal in cortical dementia cases.

Symptom Profile

Cortical and subcortical dementia have different sets of symptoms.

Clinically, cortical dementia exhibits symptoms that are suggestive of abnormalities with various cortical functions like amnesia and language issues.

With subcortical dementia, the symptoms will manifest mainly as poor abstraction, issues in recall, mood disorders, and problems with strategy formation. Other symptoms to look into include:


Memory dysfunctions tend to occur in both groups of dementia.

Studies, however, propose that the nature of memory impairment is different in subcortical and cortical dementia.

Cortical dementia showcases more severe memory loss, which is depicted by difficulties in recalling information and learning new details.

When it comes to subcortical dementia, things are not black and white.

While there is evidence of challenges with procedural learning, the impairment is not uniform in regards to all kinds of perceptomotor learning.

For example, a person who has Parkinson’s disease might have issues with skill or habit learning but have no problem in intact learning tasks such as artificial grammar and dot pattern prototype.

Memory loss patterns also come into play when differentiating these two forms of dementia.

With cortical dementia, recent literature indicates that memory impairment evolution happens in a temporal gradient, which results in progressive or extensive remote memory loss.

This is especially true for autobiographical memory.

On the contrary, the memory loss pattern in subcortical dementia is considered to be a lot more diverse. The specific type of dementia will determine the memory loss pattern.

For instance, persons who have Parkinson’s disease normally have challenges when dating events in the past.

Note that memory decline is faster in Parkinson’s dementia than in AD as reported by Selective Reminding Test and Boston naming test.

It is also important to point out that with subcortical dementias, learning impairments are subject to correction with the use of more prominent aid recognition cues.

Executive Functions

executive functions
Executive functions usually involve the frontal lobes and other subcortical structures. This means that it is only natural for executive function problems to be present in both subcortical and cortical dementia.

This, however, happens at a different rate.

AD is normally characterized by the impairment of various executive functions like problem-solving and concept formation.

Persons who have cortical dementia will experience impaired elementary calculation skills earlier than those who have subcortical dementia.

Persons with cortical dementia also remain alert for more extended periods than those with subcortical dementia.


Several studies indicate that the language problem is often seen in cortical dementia.

Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease exhibit several progressive language issues. These normally start with an inability to recall names of familiar objects before it deteriorates to terminal language syndrome.

Prognosis of Cortical and Subcortical Dementia

The prognosis of cortical and subcortical dementia also significantly varies. Because different types of dementias fall under these two categories, multiple factors commonly affect prognosis.

Among these include general health, age of onset, and other illnesses that the person suffers from. These can affect not only prognosis but life expectancy as well.


Currently, there is no specific cure for both cortical and subcortical dementia.

However, a majority of the disorders that are listed for the two groups of dementia will respond to appropriate treatment.

These can include different types of medication and other alternative therapies that can help to slow down the progression of the illness.

Lifestyle changes can also help to improve the life quality of people who are experiencing different types of dementia.

Closing Thoughts

Understanding the differences between the two main groups of dementias is essential because it helps to create a better understanding of how the brain behaves regarding neurodegenerative illnesses.

This can also help medics improve the ability to differentiate multiple dementia disorders clinically.

There is also a need for more clinical studies that will examine the differences between subcortical dementia and cortical dementia. These are bound to give a clearer picture of the factors that distinguish the two forms of dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association indicates that about 90% of the information available about dementia has been discovered in under twenty years.

Experts in the industry continue to do more research, tests, and studies on this disease that affects millions of people in different parts of the globe.

Fresh information may continue to roll out detailing the differences or similarities of cortical and subcortical dementia so that people can get a better understanding of these illnesses.

Vascular Dementia Stages and Progression

vascular dementia stages

Vascular dementia is one of the most common types of dementia, and people who have this illness often have to go through several vascular dementia stages.

It is a disease that develops when the brain cells die because they are not getting enough nutrients and oxygen.

It can happen when there are impaired tiny blood vessels in the brain or after a person has gone through a major stroke or even a series of smaller strokes.

Because the condition does not have a cure yet, it progresses from a mild case to a severe one. Note that these stages will differ from one person to the next.

This is simply because this type of dementia is typically brought about by different conditions.

One person may experience vascular dementia following a stroke.

However, another may get it after the inner parts of the brain get damaged for one reason or another. Just like other forms of dementia, vascular dementia also tends to progress in gradual stages. This, however, happens in a more step-like manner.

Check out how the illness may affect an individual over time describing what happens during the three major vascular dementia stages below.

Vascular Dementia Stages

1st Stage

first stage of vascular dementia
At the onset of vascular dementia, things are usually not too serious. Many individuals during this first stage can go about their daily lives without any interference.

This is because the symptoms are still somewhat stable; thus, manageable.

Most of the time, it is difficult to tell whether a person has vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Some people may even have what is known as mixed dementia, where one has both Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Some people may experience things like impaired memory (general forgetfulness), challenges finding the right words, and difficulty with planning, organizing, and carrying out several tasks in an efficient manner during the first stages of this illness.

A small percentage of individuals with vascular dementia will also go through a slight decline in walking and balance. The condition at this point may also affect thinking and decision making.

At this stage, a majority of people can live alone, but it is recommended that their loved ones always check on them often.

This helps to make sure that everything is in place and that the individuals are not a danger to themselves or any other people around them.

At times, small home modifications may also come in handy to create a more supportive and comfortable environment for individuals with vascular dementia.

2nd Stage

stages of vascular dementia
After a person has gone through the initial vascular dementia stages, it may reach a point where the symptoms are no longer stable.

Things become worse where you might find that the affected person now has a different personality.

Depending on the cause of this dementia, many people will start going through anxiety, depression and have mood swings.

This usually occurs because a person is more aware of the changes that are happening to their bodies. Some people will become overly emotional and a majority are prone to apathy.

Other behavioral changes may include increased agitation and irritability.

Increased agitation and irritability

There may also be sessions where they are certain outbursts where a person can either cry or laugh inappropriately.

Hallucinations and delusions may also be part of the equation.

In severe cases, a percentage of individuals who have vascular dementia will also experience epilepsy episodes. Loss of social skills is also common at this stage.

You may find that a person who has the disease no longer wants to be a part of the social circles they were in before. They may not want to talk to the people they love.

You may notice that they want to spend more time indoors as a means of shutting out the world.

Most of the time, this usually comes about because a person is embarrassed about what they are going through seeing that they are no longer in complete control of their lives.

Several physical signs may also be prevalent during the middle stages of vascular dementia.

This is where a person may experience loss of bowel or bladder control. Some may also experience dizziness and tremors often.

Caregivers may also notice that the persons under their care are experiencing arm and leg weakness and maybe moving around with shuffling rapid steps.

Language and speech problems

If a person was speaking well in the past, slurred speech and other language problems might also start to show up.

Individuals with this illness should also get close monitoring when they are on the move. That’s because they tend to get lost even when they are in familiar surroundings.

Doing things like paying bills handling money or engaging in their favorite hobby becomes challenging, which can prove to be quite frustrating to the ill individual.

It’s not uncommon for a person with the illness to have difficulties sleeping during this phase.

Some individuals also display repetitive, obsessive or even impulsive behavior.

If a person is staying alone at this point, it would be best to make different housing arrangements.

They can move in with relatives who will act as caregivers and also keep an eye on the persons with the illness to prevent avoidable accidents.

If this is not possible, the family might have to look into senior care facilities where persons with vascular dementia will get professional care.

This is simply because a person at this point may need support with multiple day-to-day activities.

These may include showering, walking, dressing, eating, cooking, and using the restroom, among others.

3rd Stage

vascular dementia stages
You can consider this one of the final vascular dementia stages. The symptoms that persons experience at this stage are normally severe.

These can be distressing to the weak person.

If one gets vascular dementia after suffering a stroke, the aftermath can bring out physical symptoms.

They can experience problems with speech, vision, and weakness of the limbs. These symptoms will surface if the stroke caused damage to certain parts of the brain.

Individuals who have vascular dementia may also experience similar symptoms to the people who are in their last stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

It is where issues with communication, reasoning, confusion, memory loss, and disorientation become worse.

Motor challenges

A majority of people with vascular dementia also experience motor symptoms that may include unsteady or slow gait disturbance and clumsiness.

Handling daily activities becomes increasingly difficult, too.

Delusions or hallucinations that would come and go during the previous stage worsen.

At times, persons with vascular dementia may also become violent, suspicious, and demanding of people who are around them.

Many persons have a difficult time eating and swallowing. This often leads to rapid unhealthy weight loss. Some may even experience loss of speech.

Almost everyone at this point will have significant problems with both long-term and short-term memory.

As the condition becomes worse, it may affect/damage all the functions of the brain. This is also the stage where the illness deteriorates and can end up being fatal.

Some people at this stage can also go through heart attacks or a major stroke that can end their lives.

During this stage, it might be difficult for the family to render the appropriate care. Especially if they are not around their loved ones 24/7.

This calls for other measures such as hiring a professional who will move in to look after the person who has vascular dementia.

Alternatively, the individual might have to move into a senior care community.

A place that looks after people with dementia to get the kind of assistance and care they need without compromising their health.

Closing Remarks

Anyone who has vascular dementia should not think of it as a death sentence. It is still possible to live a full life even when going through the various vascular dementia stages.

Always remember that different people will experience vascular dementia differently.

While some may go through gradual changes, others will experience a decline in cognitive abilities, which is followed closely by stability periods.

This does not last because there are other step downs in abilities and then stability for a while, and so forth. This is what is called “stepwise” or “step-like progression.”

When your grandparent manages to catch vascular dementia in its early stage, he or she can come up with an effective treatment plan.

This will slow down the illness, preventing it from becoming worse at a fast rate.

Professional doctors have the know-how to identify the underlying cause of the illness.

The expert will come up with a healthy program you can use to reduce the risk of complications that may crop up in the future.

This might include a total change in lifestyle that will slow down the progression of the disease.

Most professionals will recommend that you get moving to increase your physical fitness and blood flow. Additionally, eat a balanced diet, get on a routine, and quit smoking and drinking alcohol.

On average, reports indicate that persons with vascular dementia will live for about five years after they detect the symptoms.

There are, however, many people who have lived for more than five years.

5 Types of Vascular Dementia And Symptoms

types of vascular dementia

At the time of writing this, there are several different types of vascular dementia you should be aware of.

If you are ready to learn about all different varieties of the disease, this article covers all the necessary and then some.

Note, vascular dementia occurs when one starts to experience damaging blood vessels in the brain.

This can happen for an assortment of different reasons from poor oxygen flow and lack of nutrition to infarct and other brain diseases and injuries.

Have in mind, strokes are one of the most common reasons for the development of destructive vascular dementia.

While some of the types of vascular dementia are pretty similar, they still have particular details that are exclusive to the condition.

In other words, some are more common than others and the same goes for their symptoms.

Also, each type progresses uniquely if not treated early enough.

Of course, we all need to know that so far there is still no cure for dementia. However, if we act quickly enough, we can lighten the progress of the disease and ensure a more comfortable life.

With that in mind, let’s further investigate the different variations of vascular dementia and some of the causes.

By having the right knowledge, you can seek help from a doctor or a practitioner early enough for the older adult to get appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

Different Types of Vascular Dementia

1. Multi-Infarct Dementia (MID)

multi-infarct dementia
Vascular Dementia is a broad name that describes an umbrella of signs and symptoms related to brain damage caused by cerebrovascular disease.

The condition is marked by the impairment of blood flow to the brain owing to injured or damaged cells. In turn, it also hampers oxygen flow to the brain.

The impaired blood flow affects several functions initiated by the brain including memory, reasoning, judgment, and planning.

Vascular dementia presents itself in several ways depending on the specific cause and it also affects each individual person in different ways. Multi-infarct dementia (MID) is one of the types of vascular dementia.

What Causes MID

MID comes about when the brain suffers from several minor strokes causing injuries to several areas of the brain referred to as infarcts.

The strokes also cause extensive lesions in the brain’s nerve fibers. Physicians also explain that most of these “silent strokes” go unnoticed without any clinical symptoms.

That is how they manage to cause the severe and often irreparable damage to the brain cells resulting in the MID symptoms.

Since the infarcts affect secluded brain areas, the symptoms often have an adverse effect on specific functions like language or it can attack only one side of the body.

2. Subcortical Vascular Dementia

subcortical vascular dementia
One of the other types of vascular dementia is Binswanger’s disease. For your information, many as well call this particular one subcortical vascular dementia.

It is marked by extensive damage to multiple tiny areas of the brain.

The result is an impairment in the arteries that supply blood to the brain’s subcortical regions which, in turn, diminishes blood circulation within the brain.

The more narrow the arteries get, the lesser the amount of blood that goes to the brain’s tissues, and the ultimate result is the inevitable death of the brain.

The condition could come about as a result of untreated diabetes or high blood pressure.

Symptoms of Subcortical Vascular Dementia

Notably, Binswanger’s disease is stroke-related and it presents even more impairments to the brain’s white substance as a result of the hardened arteries and several lunar infarctions.

Often, a person with this condition experiences memory difficulties and their reasoning skills deteriorate.

The condition also presents itself at the tail end of the fourth decade in life and its severity increases with age.

One of the symptoms characteristic of this type of vascular dementia is psychomotor slowness.

It presents itself with an increased length of time that a person takes to perform the simplest of tasks like writing the shape of a letter on a piece of paper.

Other symptoms include changes in speech, personality/ mood shifts, unsteady gait/clumsiness, or frequent falls.

3. Strategic Infarct Dementia

strategic-infarct dementia
A single stroke can at times lead to vascular dementia depending on stroke’s size and its origin within the body.

The type of vascular dementia that comes about from these types of strokes is known as Strategic Infarct Dementia.

It occurs after the destruction of a significant cognitive process by an infarct in a specific area of the brain.

It is associated with the sudden onset of behavioral changes that take place after the stroke. Its symptoms depend on the function of the brain that the stroke damages.

If there are no subsequent series of strokes symptoms like impaired memory and decreased attention can often go unnoticed. Otherwise, the chances of the symptoms becoming worse are quite high.

Symptoms Associated With Strategic Infarct Dementia

Someone with Strategic Infarct Dementia often starts by presenting acute symptoms including fluctuating alertness and attentiveness.

Memory loss, psychomotor retardation and apathy are also some of the primary symptoms which suggest frontal lobe dysfunction.

When the stroke damages the left-sided infarcts it results in verbal memory loss while damages to the right-sided infarcts cause problems with visuospatial memory.

A state of altered consciousness also results in a lack of motivation as well as severe personality changes.

People who experience thalamic infarcts and hemorrhages might also experience motor aphasia and transcortical sensory issues.

4. Stroke-related Dementia

stroke-related dementia
Note, many also use Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) when talking about this type of vascular dementia.

It affects the blood vessels within the brain as well as those in close proximity to it. This condition comes about when an artery feeding the brain with blood raptures.

It also comes about when part of the brain is deprived of enough blood affecting its normal functioning (termed ischemia) leading to the death of the cells (infarction).

Ischemia, which is also known as atherosclerosis, occurs when arteries supplying blood to the brain are narrow as a result of plaque, a fatty deposit.

These fatty deposits can rupture forming a blood clot that together can travel to arteries in the brain and block the vessels causing a stroke.

Symptoms Of Stroke-related Dementia

The symptoms that come about after a stroke leading to dementia vary based on the part of the brain that is affected.

The most common symptoms of stroke-related dementia include paralysis or weakness experienced on either side of the body. It can lead to the complete or partial loss of sensations or voluntary movements related to the arms or legs.

Also, it can cause speech problems owing to weakened face muscles, and drooling is often a symptom too.

When a stroke hits the base of the brain it affects functions like balance, consciousness, swallowing, and even breathing.

Strokes are a medical emergency and it’s important to seek medical assistance when you suspect someone is having a stroke.

5. Post-Stroke Dementia

types of vascular dementia post-stroke dementia
Another common vascular dementia type is Post-stroke Dementia (PSD) that often occurs after suffering from a stroke. It uniquely comprises of the symptoms associated with other types of dementia collectively.

It could be degenerative dementia Alzheimer’s disease or a mix of both. At this point, cognitive abilities usually deteriorate, unlike the temporary physical disability symptoms experience post strokes.

Since the vascular system in the brain is damaged due to an insufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients, a person with vascular dementia often exhibits depression with rapid mood fluctuations.

Post-stroke cognitive damage may also affect a large number of stroke survivors. People with pre-stroke cognitive decline have a high risk of also developing PSD.

15+ Best Lewy Body Dementia Treatment Options

lewy body dementia treatment

After a person has been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, the first thing they want to know is the options available in regards to Lewy body dementia treatment.

This is a type of dementia that develops when abnormal protein deposits, also known as Lewy bodies, are found in various areas of the brain.

These round, smooth lumps end up disrupting the normal functioning of the brain.

Sadly, to date, there is still no cure for the condition.

Best Lewy Body Dementia Treatment

There are some treatment options, however, available to help treat specific LBD symptoms, such as:

Use of Medications

There are different types of drugs that specialists can recommend for individuals who have Lewy body dementia as follow.

Cholinesterase Inhibitors

cholinesterase inhibitors
These are medications for Alzheimer’s disease that help to boost the levels of chemical messengers understood to be vital for judgment, memory, and thought in the brain.

Apparently, they enhance cognition and alertness. In some cases, they also help to reduce hallucinations and a host of other behavioral problems.

Drugs that your doctor may prescribe to help with these include Exelon, Razadyne, or Aricept among others.

Parkinson’s disease Medicine

parkinson's disease medicine
Some drugs can help reduce some of the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease like slow movement and rigid muscles. These are drugs like Duopa, Rytary, and Sinemet, etc.

After taking these, you may find that a person can walk better and they experience less muscle stiffness.


This is a drug that works by blocking the effects a person gets when they have excess amounts of glutamate, a chemical in the brain. It is mainly used by individuals who have moderate or severe dementia with Lewy bodies.

It’s also suitable for those who cannot take inhibitors for one reason or another.

Physicians may also recommend medications to treat some of the symptoms and signs that people with Lewy body dementia have.

Some individuals may be put on anti-psychotic drugs or tranquilizers to help lessen agitation.

Those who are facing depression may also get Antidepressants. These may offer solutions for sleep issues or movement problems.

Depending on how the body reacts to the illness, the person with Lewy body dementia may be on one or multiple drugs at the same time.

Before you take any drug to help with the medical condition, it is important to check any side effects they may bring about.

Some of the drugs above may bring about increased delusions, hallucinations, and confusion depending on the drug you are taking.

This is why it is important to consult widely with professionals before you start taking any medication.

Many doctors will start administering the medication in low doses, and if it is beneficial to the person with dementia, they increase the dosage levels over time.

If you experience any side effects, report to the physician immediately so that the professional will advise on whether to discontinue the drug or not.

When using medicine as part of the Lewy body dementia treatment plan, it is advisable to stay away from drugs that have anticholinergic properties.

These may end up making the condition worse because of the numerous adverse side effects they can cause. First-generation antipsychotic medications are also on the list of medications to avoid.

These can cause severe Parkinsonism, confusion, sedation, and can also be fatal.

Non-Drug Treatment Options

non-drug dementia treatment options
Non-drug approaches can also be part of the comprehensive Lewy body dementia treatment plan.

Depending on an individual, one may combine medication and these treatment varieties while others may stick to one type of treatment.

There are several options people have when it comes to non-medicinal treatment options, such as:


People who have Lewy body dementia can benefit from different types of therapies, like:

1. Speech therapy

This can come in handy for individuals who experience poor enunciation and low voice volume. Experts agree that it can also help with swallowing challenges and enhancing muscle strength.

2. Physical therapy

Some of the options available include flexibility, strengthening and cardiovascular exercises as well as gait training.

Doctors may also advise a person with Lewy dementia to be active in a physical fitness program to engage in activities like water exercises, aerobics, and strengthening exercises.

3. Occupational therapy

It is also highly recommended because it may assist in maintaining skills as well as promoting independence and function.

Do not miss our complete overview of the different benefits of occupational therapy.

4. Psychological therapies

These can include cognitive stimulation where a person engages in exercises and other actives that help to enhance language ability, problem-solving skills, and memory.

5. Mental health counseling

This helps persons with dementia with Lewy bodies to learn how to better cope with their emotions and behavior changes.

Complementary Therapies

Lewy body dementia treatment complementary therapies
There are other forms of therapies that can help people who have Lewy body dementia feel better, like:

1. Pet therapy

For most people spending time with pets, they love can be an automatic mood booster. Getting a cat, dog, bird, or any other animal that a person loves can be just what they need to feel better.

2. Supplements and vitamins

Studies suggest that people with dementia with Lewy bodies lack adequate vitamins and nutrients in their bodies, something that can make the illness worse.

Taking adequate supplements and vitamins can help to take care of this problem. Just consult with your physician before taking anything because some of the supplements can interact with the drugs you are taking.

3. Aroma, dance, and music therapy

These usually work to improve an individual’s mood and also reduce anxiety by soothing and calming an individual.

We also created individual articles about aromatherapy, dance therapy and music therapy, where you can learn about all the benefits.

4. Massage

A person may also need professional massages once in a while to help with relaxation.

Home Modifications

home modifications
Although this may not be direct Lewy body dementia treatment options, some changes around the house can help a person with dementia to be more comfortable.

Several things can be done under this including:

1. Reducing clutter

With the help of a professional caregiver, it is crucial to modify the environment where the person with Lewy body dementia will be spending most of their time.

This can include using calming colors and removing things that can distract the person with the illness so that they can function better.

2. Make adjustment

Removing potential trip hazards like loose carpets can be of great help to persons with Lewy body dementia.

It is also vital to make sure that the affected person stays in a well-lit place. Adding handrails and grab bars is also a great idea.

You should also arrange furniture in such a way that it will not get in the way and cause problems.

Other Lewy body dementia treatment options that can be of assistance include:

1. Family psychotherapy

This helps people who want to support the patient with Lewy body dementia to learn how to effectively manage behavioral and emotional symptoms to co-exist well with their loved ones.

2. Getting quality sleep

It is common for people with Lewy body dementia to experience episodes of sleep disturbance.

It is, however, important for caregivers and individuals to try as much as possible to get restful nights as this also helps with treatment.

Some of the things that people can do include napping less during the daytime, engaging in physical exercise and having regular bed-time and waking-up time.

It is also advisable to avoid caffeine and nicotine when you are just about to jump into bed. Keeping the sleeping area quiet at comfortable temperatures can also help a great deal.

3. Stimulating mental functioning

You can do this easily by playing games and puzzles that demand thinking skills.

4. Support group

A person with dementia with Lewy bodies can also join a support group. These allow them to be surrounded by other people who have similar illnesses so that a person does not feel like they are alone.

Sharing experiences of the illnesses can also help one to identify practical solutions that they can use daily to reduce frustrations.

These may also encourage members to take part in exciting activities they like so that they can take their mind off the illness and enjoy life a little bit.

5. Creating routines

Having set structures and routines has been known to be beneficial to people with dementia because it helps to reduce confusion.

It can also help to enhance independence, especially during the first stages of the illness.

Final thoughts

Because people with Lewy body dementia usually experience the condition differently, it is important to be very careful when selecting the ideal Lewy body dementia treatment option.

What may work for one person may end up making your situation worse. Do not self-medicate simply because you read somewhere that there are drugs people with dementia can take to manage symptoms.

Always work with an expert physician who will closely monitor any medication or non-drug treatment you are on to know whether it is good for your body or not.

It’s also essential to conduct thorough research because they are new treatment methods cropping up often.

This will not only help you stay informed, but you can discuss the new developments with your doctor to pick a treatment option that will work for you.

HIV-Associated Dementia – Symptoms and Causes

HIV-associated dementia

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) affect many organs in the human body including the brain which may lead to the development of HIV-associated dementia.

This is also known as AIDS dementia, AIDS dementia complex, or HIV/AIDS encephalopathy.

It is one of the severe consequences of HIV infection.

HIV weakens the immune system of the person it affects which makes it harder for the body to fight diseases and infections.

What is HIV associated dementia?

Dementia caused by HIV can be described as chronic cognitive deterioration that is a result of brain infection by HIV.

It is a complex syndrome that consists of various mental and nervous system symptoms that affect persons with HIV. The HIV infection normally gets to the brain at the later stages of the disease.

While dementia tends to affect elderly persons, AIDS dementia tends to occur in younger persons.

HIV encephalopathy is an infection that spreads through the brain and is one of the primary causes of dementia in persons who have HIV.

Learn about the symptoms and causes of the AIDS dementia complex below.

Causes of HIV-Associated Dementia

causes of HIV associated dementia
When a person has HIV, the virus makes its way to the brain infecting the cells in the organ. This causes encephalopathy a disease that affects the functions of the brain.

The illness then leads to the development of dementia because of the neuronal damage that HIV causes.

The virus also damages the communication between nerve cells which results in impaired cognitive function and impaired communication in the brain.

AIDS dementia is more common in people who are not on anti-HIV drugs.

According to, HIV-associated dementia typically occurs when a person’s CD4+ falls to fewer than 200 cells/microliter. This typically occurs after years of positive HIV diagnosis.

There are several ways HIV can affect the brain.

One of them is through the viral proteins that may directly damage nerve cells or infect the inflammatory cells in the brain as well as the spinal cord.

The virus may then trigger the cells to disable and damage the nerve cells.

HIV usually leads to generalized inflammation which can be the cause of memory problems as well as other aging processes like heart diseases.

While AIDS dementia is not an opportunist infection, since HIV causes neurodegenerative disorder, the exact causes of this disorder can be hard to pinpoint.

This is because several other causes related to HIV can damage the nervous system including:

  • Opportunistic infections
  • Direct effects of the HIV infection on the brain
  • Malnutrition
  • AIDS-related metastasis/lymphoma or other related cancers
  • Drug treatments toxic effects

Symptoms of HIV-Associated Dementia

symptoms of HIV-associated dementia
Several symptoms are seen in persons with AIDS dementia. These can show up at different stages of the disease.

At the early stages some of the warning signs that may be prominent include:

  • Memory issues affecting both long and short-term memory
  • Encephalitis: this is a condition that makes the membranes of the spinal column and those of the brain swell
  • Reduced productivity at the workplace
  • Problems with spatial skills
  • Difficulties staying focused or concentrating
  • Inability to learn new skills
  • Cognitive impairment where a person experiences reduced ability to think clearly
  • Problems with speaking accurately or clearly
  • A gradual loss of motor skills
  • Apathy
  • Lack of enthusiasm in previously enjoyed hobbies and activities
  • Taking longer to complete familiar tasks
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Problems taking medicine correctly and following the proper medical advice
  • Decreased libido
  • Changes in personality and behavior
  • Difficulties managing finances
  • Trouble keeping balance or an unsteady gait
  • Difficulties with decision-making, organizing, and planning

The symptoms are different for people with AIDS dementia complex.
the symptoms aids dementia
Experts state that mental status tests, as well as other mental capabilities, are usually normal during the onset of the illness.

Warning signs

Because the symptoms tend to develop slowly, some warning signs may come out during the middle stages of HIV-associated dementia like:

  • Signs of motor dysfunction like muscle weakness
  • Reversing of words or numbers
  • Impaired driving
  • Frequently dropping objects and slower responses
  • Poor performance on daily tasks
  • Increased attention and concentration required
  • Coordination, balance, and walking requires more effort
  • Slowness in activities like writing or speaking
  • Feelings of indifference

aids dementia symptoms become worse

Worth noting is that dementia symptoms become worse as the infection in the brain becomes more widespread.

Some signs may show up during the later stages of AIDS dementia complex such as:

  • Spastic gait which makes walking more challenging
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Social withdrawal
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Confinement to bed
  • Seizures
  • Loss of initiative
  • Mania: extreme hyperactivity, restlessness, poor judgement, and rapid speech
  • Psychosis: this is a serious mental disorder where emotions and thoughts are impaired to an extent that a person loses touch with reality. These can also feature extreme agitation, inability to appropriately respond to the environment, delusions, and hallucinations

The above symptoms can make one confused where they are not able to make sense of the world around them.

At times, they can also result in a vegetative state where an individual is incapable of interacting and has minimal awareness of their surroundings.

Symptoms can be similar to other conditions

It is also important to note that some of the HIV-associated dementia symptoms resemble other medical problems and conditions.

These may include depression, other infections, or nutritional deficiencies. For these reasons, it is to best consult a professional health care provider for an accurate diagnosis.

Anyone who has HIV should visit an HIV specialist or GP if they start developing problems with their mood or thinking.

Medical experts acknowledge that people with AIDS dementia complex achieve the best results with early diagnosis and proper treatment.

Closing Thoughts

While some people who have HIV end up developing HIV-associated dementia, some do not.

It is advisable for persons who have been diagnosed with HIV to have their emotional and cognitive wellbeing assessed within three months of the diagnosis.

This should be re-assed after a year so that should any problems arise, they can be addressed as fast as possible.

There is on-going research to determine whether HIV causes dementia to develop faster in an individuals’ brain.

The findings will help determine how a person’s risk of dementia might increase if they have HIV.

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