What is frontotemporal dementia that afflicted actor Bruce Willis? And how is it diagnosed? Is there a cure for this disease?
Frontotemporal dementia is a disease that includes a group of uncommon brain disorders that mainly affect both the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain as these lobes are related to behavior, speech, personality, and language.
When frontotemporal dementia disorder occurs, atrophy of parts of the lobes occurs, and the symptoms vary depending on the affected place in the brain.
In some people, there are drastic changes in their personalities and their actions become impulsive, socially inappropriate, and apathetic, and frontotemporal dementia in some people may affect their use of language correctly.
When May a Patient Develop Frontotemporal Dementia?
Dementia most often affects patients over the age of 65, but frontotemporal dementia may occur at a younger age, most often between the ages of 45-65.
Symptoms and signs of frontotemporal dementia may vary from person to person.
Symptoms of the disease begin to gradually worsen over time, often over years.
A combination of symptoms may occur together, and a person may feel more than one set of symptoms.
1. Behavioral Changes
Below we list some of the most common signs of frontotemporal dementia, in which drastic changes in behavior and personality may occur, among which we mention:
- Inappropriate behavior.
- Lack of empathy and communication with others, such as consideration for feelings.
- Apathy, which some may misdiagnose as depression.
- Compulsive behavior such as clapping or licking lips.
- Loss of interest in personal hygiene.
- Lack of ability to self-control.
- A change in eating habits, often including overeating or, preferably, excessive intake of sweets and carbohydrates.
- Eating inedible things.
- The obligatory desire to put things in the mouth.
2. Speech and Language Problems
Some of the ramified types of frontotemporal dementia lead to language problems, dysarthria, or loss of speech. They may include the following:
- Difficulty using or understanding written or spoken words, such as difficulty choosing the right words when speaking.
- Having difficulty naming some things, such as replacing a specific word with a generic one, such as using "this" instead of a pen.
- Difficulty in knowing some meanings of words.
- Frequency and brevity of speech.
- Errors in the formulation of sentences.
3. Movement disorders
Rare subtypes of frontotemporal dementia include movement problems and may resemble symptoms of Parkinson's disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Movement-related problems may include:
- Muscle spasm.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Muscle weakness.
- Laughing or crying at inappropriate times.
A specialist makes the diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia. The following things may help with the diagnosis:
- In a detailed assessment of the symptoms and signs, usually the doctor resorts to finding out the medical history by asking someone close to the patient who is sufficiently informed about his behavior and personality before and after the disease.
- A detailed assessment of mental abilities using a set of questions or performing specific activities.
- Perform brain scan images such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT scan).
There is no specific treatment or medication for frontotemporal dementia at the moment.Medications used to treat or slow down Alzheimer's disease are ineffective in people with frontotemporal dementia, which can worsen symptoms and make them worse. But some medications can help control some symptoms.
Some antidepressant medications may reduce the behavioral problems associated with frontotemporal dementia. Such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as citalopram, paroxetine, or sertraline.
2. Antipsychotic Drugs
It may help reduce behavioral problems. However, these drugs should be used with caution in people with dementia due to serious side effects such as an increased risk of death.
Turn to a speech therapist for help with speech, language, and communication problems.
Coping and Support
If you have been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, receiving support, care, and the sympathy of people you trust can be invaluable.
Find a support group for people with frontotemporal dementia, through your doctor or online. A support group may provide valuable information tailored to your needs and a forum allows you to share your experience and feelings.
If you are more interested in this disease, you can Explore the clinical studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic on new developments in the field of therapies, medical interventions, and tests used to prevent, treat and manage this health condition.