PBA is nothing to laugh about
One in 10 seniors in the Grand Rapids, Mich, area is subject to uncontrollable laughter, tears or anger caused by pseudobulbar affect (PBA), a neurologic condition, a recent study found. This condition can present a frustrating quality-of-life issue because the individual has no idea why he or she is behaving inappropriately.
Kevin T. Foley, MD, an associate professor of Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, presented the researchers’ findings at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in July. The cause of PBA is unknown. Theories focus on the bulbar nuclei, which control the muscle movement of laughing and crying, according to a Michigan Live article.
Researchers reviewed charts from all the residents of nine Michigan nursing homes (811) that were similar to the national average in size and regulatory compliance. Data were collected from 418 residents who had neurologic diagnoses. Residents with a diagnosis of psychosis were excluded from the study.
Their efforts showed that PBA often is misdiagnosed as depression or is treated with antipsychotic medications as a way to manage disruptive behavior. In the analysis, 18 percent of residents with a neurologic disorder (Alzheimer’s disease or stroke) exhibited symptoms of PBA.
The authors recommend additional study to find ways to identify people with PBA to ensure an accurate diagnosis and the reduction in use of antipsychotic drugs. Antipsychotic drugs have been linked to stroke, pneumonia and other serious conditions, they note.
Sandra Hoban was on I Advance Senior Care / Long-Term Living’s editorial staff for 17 years. She is one of the country’s longest-serving senior care journalists. Before joining Long-Term Living, she was a member of the promotions department at Advanstar Communications. In addition to her editorial experience, Sandi has served past roles in print and broadcast advertising as a traffic and talent coordinator.
Topics: Alzheimer's/Dementia , Clinical , Regulatory Compliance