Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a form of cognitive impairment that involves a progressive loss of language function. Language is a uniquely human faculty that allows us to communicate with each other through the use of words. Our language functions include speaking, understanding what others are saying, repeating things we have heard, naming common objects, reading and writing.
Both FTLD and AD can lead to many different patterns of clinical impairments, depending on the region of the brain that bears the brunt of the nerve cell loss. When AD or FTLD attacks the language areas (usually on the left side of the brain), PPA results. PPA is caused by AD in approximately 30-40% of cases and by FTLD in approximately 60-70% of cases. In contrast, PPA is a very rare manifestation of AD.
A neuropsychological examination provides a more detailed evaluation of mental functioning. This is especially important in the very early stages of illness when a routine screening evaluation may not detect the problems the patient is experiencing. This requires several hours and consists of paper-and-pencil or computer-administered tests of mental abilities, including attention and concentration, language, learning.
Major research on disease:
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a diagnosis made in people who show a gradual impairment of word finding and word usage. The Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center is a major referral center for PPA and conducts unique clinical, research, and psychosocial programs focusing on this condition.