Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a disorder that refers to damage to neurons in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain (the areas of the brain behind the forehead and the ears). Some doctors may refer to it as Pick’s disease after Arnold Pick, the psychiatrist credited for discovering the disease. Unfortunately, the causes of frontotemporal dementias are unknown. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, in about 15 to 40% of people, a genetic link can be identified.
Frontotemporal disorders encompass several types of dementia symptoms. These types of dementia are classified into three general categories.
The first is progressive behavior/personality decline where personality, behavior, emotions, and judgment are impacted.
The second category is progressive language decline. Speaking, understanding, reading, and writing are all impacted in this category.
Lastly, the third category is progressive motor decline. This includes a variety of changes in physical movement including frequent falls, shaking, and trouble walking.
There are a few different strategies in the diagnosis process of FTD. One of the most accurate methods of diagnosis is through genetic testing. In order for this to be a possibility, the dementia must be present within the family. Diagnosis is typically done through extensive testing and evaluation, which could include observing and recording a person’s symptoms, cognitive testing, reviewing family medical history, and having a physical exam.
Unfortunately there is currently no cure or way of slowing the progression of frontotemporal dementia at this point in time. There are, however, ways to manage the symptoms through medications and/or behavioral interventions.
For more information regarding Frontotemporal Dementias, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 800.272.3900 or visit alz.org/dayton.
“Frontotemporal Disorders- Information for Patients, Families, and Caregivers” by the National Institute of Health