Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

March 20, 2023

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD), or F-T-D is one type of dementia - not exactly like Alzheimer's disease. It is less common, occur in younger population, and different in symptoms, compared to Alzheimer's disease.

There are several subtypes of FTD. Most of the patients are behavioral-varient. They present with behavioral and personality changes. When the disease progresses, they may no longer behave like themselves. 

Others, called language-varient, could have language difficulty as a main feature. They may experience difficulty on word-finding, less fluent speech and impaired language comprehension. 

FTD can happen together with degeneration of motor nerve cells, which cause declining in muscle functions. 

At the beginning, FTD patients do not have much forgetfulness, unlike typical Alzheimer's disease that memory impairment is the first symptom.

To make a diagnosis of FTD, apart from routine clinical encounter and cognitive exam, we also use functional brain imaging, and genetic test for FTD-related genes. These special tests may be available only at some medical centers.

The younger the patient, the harder to say if one has psychiatric disorder or FTD. Genetic test could be of benefit in such cases, given that other tests may not be sensitive enough to detect abnormalities at early stage.

Currently, there is no cure, or even disease modifying treatment for FTD. 

However, quality of life of the patient and their family can be better with certain interventions, such as behavioral therapy, speech practice, and medicine to help improve patient's wellbeings. 

Love and understanding from the family are the most important part of the care process.

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