Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a neurological disorder that makes it hard for someone to talk and understand words. Aphasia is when your brain is damaged, and you can’t use words right or understand them. Therefore, searching for a primary progressive aphasia treatment is necessary to ensure it doesn’t exacerbate.
PPA is a special kind of aphasia that gets worse with time. At first, people struggle to find the right words to say what they want. But as time goes on, they may forget how to write, speak, or understand words. PPA is often caused by diseases that harm the brain, like Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia. These diseases make the parts of the brain that control speech and language break down.
Types of Primary Progressive Aphasia
Experts divide PPA into three sub-types:
- Logogenic progressive aphasia might make it tough to find the right words or understand what others are saying.
- Progressive non-fluent aphasia could make it hard to speak smoothly and use good grammar.
- Semantic dementia might cause trouble naming things and understanding the meaning of single words.
Symptoms of PPA
People often start having PPA symptoms when they’re between 50 and 70 years old. It might begin with small speech issues. As time passes, they might find it hard to make good decisions and think clearly.
Some symptoms may include:
- Hard time with words, spoken or written
- Can’t grasp word meanings
- Can’t name things
- Struggling to make sentences
- Find long talks confusing
- Pause and search for words
- Can’t repeat phrases
- Bad grammar when talking or writing
- Complex sentences are tricky
- Mix up grammar
- Speech problems, like sound errors
Primary Cause of PPA
Primary progressive aphasia occurs when the language parts of your brain shrink and stop working. This can happen due to a gene problem from birth or sometimes for unknown reasons.
Usually, doctors can’t pinpoint a specific cause in most people. PPA might be a mix of things like your surroundings and your genes. It might run in your family even if you don’t have a gene issue.
How to Diagnose PPA
Your doctor could suspect PPA from your symptoms. They’ll also look at your medical and family history to check if you might be at higher risk for primary progressive aphasia.
- Neurological exam: Doctors check your speech, language, and memory.
- Blood tests: To find infections or genetic issues related to PPA.
- Brain scans (MRI): Detect brain shrinking, strokes, tumors, or other issues.
- PET scan: Shows brain activity and language-related problems.
Treatment for PPA
Primary progressive aphasia doesn’t have a cure, and there’s no method to halt its advancement. However, certain progressive aphasia treatment might help slow down the disease’s progression and improve your overall quality of life. Some of these include:
- Speech and language therapy: Getting help from a speech therapist is a good idea. They can teach you how to cope with lost language skills. While this therapy can’t completely stop the condition from getting worse, it can make it easier for you to handle. It might even slow down some of the symptoms.
- Physical and occupational therapy: If your movement and balance are affected by the symptoms, a physical therapist and occupational therapist can assist in dealing with them.
- Medications: You can use medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to help with behavioral changes and lower anxiety or sadness linked to PPA.
Even though there’s no way to make PPA disappear, the PPA treatment options above may help you cope and live with the disease.
How to Reduce Risk of PPA?
There’s no surefire method to avoid primary progressive aphasia. However, making some lifestyle adjustments can lower your chances of developing dementia. These include:
- Keep a healthy weight for your age and body.
- Be safe in the car, wear your seatbelt, and prevent falls.
- Eat well with fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and good fats.
- Stay active, doing both cardio and strength exercises.
- Limit alcohol to two drinks for men and one for women each day.
- Keep up your social connections.
- Take care of your heart, watch your blood pressure and cholesterol.
How to Prepare for Your Doctor’s Appointment
If you notice symptoms, the first step is to visit your regular doctor. They might send you to a brain and nerves specialist, called a neurologist, or a speech therapist for further help.
When you go to your appointment, make sure to mention:
- Any symptoms, even if they don’t seem related.
- Important personal details, like recent life changes, stress, and family medical history.
- List all the medicines, vitamins, and supplements you’re taking, with the doses.
- Prepare questions to ask your doctor.
If you can, bring a family member or friend with you. They can help with communication and remember the information you get.
What’s the Outlook for People with Primary Progressive Aphasia?
As you journey through primary progressive aphasia (PPA), you’ll notice that it tends to get worse over time. It’s a slow, gradual process that affects your language skills, making it harder and harder to express yourself and understand others.
Typically, individuals with PPA can live for up to 12 years after they first receive their diagnosis. However, as the condition progresses, many find themselves increasingly reliant on daily assistance for their regular activities. It’s essential to stay informed about the available support and strategies to help manage the challenges that come with PPA.
Find the Right Primary Progressive Aphasia Treatment for Better Outcomes
If you or a loved one are facing the challenges of primary progressive aphasia (PPA), remember that while there is no cure, there are ways to manage the condition and improve your quality of life. Seek the support of healthcare professionals who specialize in PPA, such as speech therapists, physical and occupational therapists, and neurologists.
Embrace lifestyle changes that reduce your risk of dementia, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor if you notice any symptoms. Together with your healthcare team, you can navigate the journey of PPA, ensuring that you receive the care, understanding, and resources you need to face this condition with strength and resilience.