About Primary Progressive Aphasia
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a neurodegenerative condition associated with difficulties processing and using language. These difficulties are linked to pathological changes to parts of the brain responsible for speech and language, including the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes (regions) of the cerebral cortex. PPA can be a result of several different underlying diseases, but is typically caused by frontotemporal lobar degeneration or a variant form of Alzheimer’s disease.
Types of Primary Progressive Aphasia:
Each form of PPA affects a different domain of speech and language.
Types of primary progressive aphasia include:
- Nonfluent/agrammatic primary progressive aphasia (nfPPA): Usually marked by effortful, halting speech and problems with grammar
- Logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia (lvPPA): Difficulty with finding the right words to use and repeating information
- Semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (svPPA): Difficulty understanding the meaning of words, objects, and concepts
Symptoms of Primary Progressive Aphasia
Initial symptoms of PPA are primarily language related. Over the course of the disease, symptoms progress and may impact other cognitive and behavioral domains.
Symptoms of primary progressive aphasia may include:
- Difficulty understanding others’ speech
- Poor grammar
- Slow speech or speech with a lot of pauses
- Trouble finding the name of an object
Risk Factors for Primary Progressive Aphasia
Risk factors for PPA can vary based on the underlying cause of your condition.
Risk factors for primary progressive aphasia may include:
- Age: PPA typically first develops between the ages of 50 and 70
- Family history
- Health history: Learning disabilities and certain gene mutations that develop before birth increase your risk of PPA
Treating Primary Progressive Aphasia at UT Health Austin
Currently, there are no medications to cure PPA and its underlying disease. However, behavioral treatment with a speech-language pathologist can often help individuals maintain current communication abilities as well as explore alternative forms of communication (e.g., nonverbal communication using gestures, pointing, low-tech or high-tech devices, etc.) to help meet communication needs as the disorder progresses.
Our clinic uses an interprofessional approach, which means our patients have contact with multiple team members coming from multiple specialties. We discuss each patient as a team to identify the diagnosis and to develop a tailored treatment plan specific to your needs. Whatever your needs are, our team is here to listen and work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.
Care Team Approach
At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines caring for you in one place to avoid having to schedule multiple appointments with providers at locations all over the city. The Comprehensive Memory Center care team includes neurologists, a geriatric psychiatrist, neuropsychologists, nurses, a speech-language pathologist, social workers, and more who work together to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you.
We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to identify new therapies to improve treatment outcomes. We are committed to communicating and coordinating your care with referring physicians and other partners in the community to ensure that we are providing you with comprehensive, whole-person care.