What Is Progressive Bulbar Palsy?

Progressive bulbar palsy is a motor neuron disorder that involves the lower motor neurons. These neurons conduct messages from the brain stem and spinal cord to the brain. Initially, patients with progressive bulbar palsy only have muscle weakness that affects speech and swallowing. However, this condition can often progress to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS.

Symptoms

Symptoms of progressive bulbar palsy can include the following:

  • Pharyngeal muscle weakness (affects swallowing)
  • Weak jaw and facial muscles
  • Progressive loss of speech
  • Tongue muscle atrophy
  • Weak limbs

Sometimes individuals with this condition also have outbursts of laughing or crying, which is called emotional lability. Specific risks for the patient are choking, gagging, and a higher risk of pneumonia.