What is Frontotemporal dementia?

Frontotemporal Dementia, also referred to as Frontotemporal Disorders (FTD), is a unique type of dementia caused by the degeneration of neurons in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. This condition affects people who are typically younger than 65, with more than half of patients being between the ages of 45 and 64, which is relatively rare compared to other forms of dementia. 

As with other forms of dementia, FTD progressively worsens over time.

Types of frontotemporal dementia

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) is comprised of three distinct subtypes, including Behavioral variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD), Movement Disorders, and Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA).

1 Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia

The first stage of Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) may involve repetitive behaviors or utterances, without significant memory changes. However, perception and social cognition are affected, leading to a loss of empathy and interest in usual activities. At times, the symptoms of bvFTD may resemble depression and result in misdiagnosis. It is important to approach these individuals with understanding and tolerance.  

2 Primary progressive aphasia

Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) refers to a slow decline in the ability to speak effectively. The underlying cause of PPA is not well understood, however, it tends to worsen over time. As the condition progresses, individuals with PPA may also experience symptoms of Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD).  

3 Movement disorders

Corticobasal syndrome and progressive supranuclear palsy are two uncommon neurological movement disorders that are linked to Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD).

Corticobasal syndrome is a rare neurological movement disorder associated with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). It results in the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain, leading to a decline in their number. While the patient's muscles may not be immediately impacted, it can impair the transmission of nerve signals. This can cause difficulty in performing physical actions, such as arm movements, despite normal muscle function. In advanced stages, the disease can also impact swallowing abilities.  

Progressive supranuclear 

Patients with progressive supranuclear palsy experience symptoms such as abnormal balance, walking difficulties, unexplained falls, and occasional stiffness, which are the key hallmarks of this disease.  

Frontotemporal dementia causes

The underlying cause of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) is often unknown, however, genetics could play a role. Research suggests that an abnormality in the TDP-43 protein in the frontal and temporal lobes may result in brain cell death, leading to the progression of FTD. Additionally, various genes such as the TAU gene, the GRN gene, and the C9ORF72 gene have been proposed to be associated with FTD. In most cases, the cause of FTD is unclear. But genetics may be one of the conditions to look at. The abnormality of TDP-43 protein in the prefrontal and Temporal lobes leads to the death of brain cells and thus to the deterioration of FTD. Several genes have also been suggested to be associated with FTD: the TAU gene, the GRN gene and the C9ORF72 gene.

Frontotemporal dementia treatment

FTD calls for a compassionate and supportive approach, rather than relying solely on medication. People with FTD may struggle with comprehending others' thoughts and emotions, and require empathy and understanding rather than confrontation. Professional care is an essential component in managing FTD. 

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