Frontotemporal Dementia | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Frontotemporal Dementia

The multidisciplinary team at Norton Neuroscience Institute has the skill and experience to diagnose and manage the slow progression of frontotemporal dementia symptoms.

More patients in Louisville and Southern Indiana get care at Norton Neuroscience Institute than with any other provider in the area. The comprehensive range of board-certified specialists provides a diversity of viewpoints to develop a customized care plan for each patient.

Frontotemporal dementia refers to a group of conditions that affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain (the part behind your forehead). These structures at the front of the brain are associated with personality, behavior and language.

When parts of these lobes shrink, they cause frontotemporal dementia. The effects can vary, depending on which parts of the lobes are affected.

The result can be behavioral — impulsiveness, apathy or social inappropriateness. The behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia accounts for about half the cases.

Others may have trouble with using language properly. Known as nonfluent primary progressive aphasia, this form of frontotemporal dementia results in the brain having difficulty controlling the muscles needed to form speech.

A third form is the semantic variant, which affects the patient’s ability to understand words and recognize familiar faces and objects.

Unlike Alzheimer’s, frontotemporal dementia does not typically affect memory, orientation or focus. Instead, there are significant changes in behavior and personality.

Frontotemporal Dementia Causes

A typical cause of frontotemporal dementia is Pick’s disease — too many clumps of a specific kind of protein (called Pick bodies) in the front parts of the brain. After a while, the clumps cause brain cells to die, shrinking brain tissue and triggering changes in behavior and personality, and later, language.

Symptoms

The behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia can be misdiagnosed as a psychiatric issue such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Or, the affected person can be seen as being selfish, rude or inappropriate.

The most common early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia are personality and behavior changes, followed by language problems like stuttering, difficulty forming sentences and issues with grammar.

Other symptoms include:

  • Behavioral changes such as hypersexuality, overeating or passivity
  • A sudden lack of empathy or caring for family and friends
  • Changes in ability to care for self (lack of bathing, not doing laundry, etc.)

Prevention and Treatment

There is no current cure or medicine for frontotemporal dementia. It progresses slowly, but it will worsen over time. Treatment for symptoms may include:

  • Behavioral or cognitive therapy
  • Antidepressant medicine to help with anxiety, aggression or agitation
  • Lifestyle adjustments

Louisville’s Leader in Neurological Care

More patients from Louisville and Southern Indiana seek treatment from Norton Neuroscience Institute’s nationally recognized neurologists and neurosurgeons than any other provider in the area.

  • We have more than 60 medical, surgical and research specialists dedicated to providing innovative care to those with brain, spine and nervous system conditions.
  • We use advanced minimally invasive neurosurgery equipment that speeds your recovery and minimizes pain.
  • Our multidisciplinary clinics offer easy access to specialists in oncology, cardiovascular, orthopedics and behavioral health.
  • Norton Healthcare has the largest network of accredited stroke centers in the area.
    • Norton Brownsboro Hospital’s designation as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Joint Commission and American Stroke Association represents the highest level of care.
    • The Joint Commission also certified Norton Audubon Hospital and Norton Hospital as Primary Stroke Centers and Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital as an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital.
  • Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center navigators help educate patients and their families about new diagnoses, available treatments and managing their disease.
  • We are nationally recognized by Becker’s Hospital Review as a Top 100 neurosurgery and spine program.
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