Frontotemporal is an umbrella term and there are several forms of this condition including:
It tends to affect people at a younger age compared with Alzheimer’s disease and affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Atrophy i.e. shrinkage of the brain in these areas can lead to different behavioural, language and physical symptoms.
Approximately 5% to 8% of all dementias can be attributed to a Frontotemporal dementia.
Since the frontal and temporal areas of the brain can be affected, early symptoms often affect either behaviour and/or language.
Doctors diagnose the fronto-temporal dementia, through a process of identifying key features of the illness and ruling out other possible causes, otherwise known as a differential diagnosis. A full medical history will be taken and the person may undertake some neuropsychological tests that will assess if cognition is affected. Brain imaging, such as CT and MRI can show damage to areas of the brain, particularly atrophy, and PET scans can highlight areas of under activity and will often be used in the making of a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia.
Your risk of developing frontotemporal dementia is higher if you have a family history of dementia as some forms of FTD can be linked to specific genes. There are no other known risk factors.
At present, there is no known cure and no effective way to slow its progression but Frontotemporal dementia research is expanding, producing greater understanding of the disorders.
Presently treatment relies on the appropriate management of the symptoms, for example people experiencing language difficulties may benefit from speech and language therapy in order to learn alternate strategies for communication.