A Systematic Review of Rehabilitation for Corticobulbar Symptoms in Adults with Huntington’s Disease

Emma Burnip, Emma Wallace, Kristen Gozdikowska, Maggie-Lee Huckabee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Corticobulbar symptoms have been reported in all stages of Huntington's disease (HD); aspiration pneumonia associated with swallowing impairment has been identified as the most common cause of death. Whilst recent research has described positive effects of corticobulbar rehabilitation in other neurodegenerative conditions, it is unclear if this is similarly effective in HD. Preliminary evidence in corticospinal rehabilitation has revealed physical therapy and exercise could be beneficial for individuals with HD.

This systematic review will explore the literature relative to rehabilitation of corticobulbar symptoms in adults with HD.

Two investigators independently searched relevant electronic databases for literature related to corticobulbar rehabilitation in HD, published in English until October 2019. Included studies were critically appraised using the Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine Levels of Evidence, Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool and Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network checklists. Study outcomes included measurements of function, quality of life or neuromuscular physiology.

Seventy-seven publications were screened with eight studies meeting the inclusion criteria - two randomised control trials and six intervention studies. Validated and objective outcome measures of corticobulbar symptoms were infrequently used. There was a high risk of bias identified in all studies. The data suggested positive clinical outcomes, no adverse effects and no deterioration observed across longitudinal studies.

This systematic review documented a lack of high-quality evidence to support the use of rehabilitation to treat corticobulbar symptoms in HD. However, the suggestion of potential positive effects based on available, albeit limited, studies provides justification for further research in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Huntington’s Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This article is published online with Open Access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


  • bulbar
  • dysarthria
  • dysphagia
  • Huntington's disease
  • rehabilitation
  • speech
  • swallowing
  • treatment


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