Frontotemporal dementia (Pick's disease) facts*

*Frontotemporal dementia (Pick's disease) facts medical author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

  • Frontotemporal dementia (FTD), or Pick's disease, is a syndrome featuring shrinking of the frontal and temporal anterior lobes of the brain.
  • The symptoms of frontotemporal dementia fall into two clinical patterns that involve either: (1) changes in behavior, or (2) problems with language.
  • Frontotemporal dementia is often inherited and runs in families.
  • There is no treatment for frontotemporal dementia and treatment is directed toward minimizing symptoms.
  • Frontotemporal dementia progresses steadily and often rapidly and is fatal. The duration of disease ranges from less than 2 years in some individuals to more than 10 years in others

What is frontotemporal dementia (Pick's disease)?

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) describes a clinical syndrome associated with shrinking of the frontal and temporal anterior lobes of the brain. Originally known as Pick's disease, the name and classification of frontotemporal dementia has been a topic of discussion for over a century. The current designation of the syndrome groups together Pick's disease, primary progressive aphasia, and semantic dementia as frontotemporal dementia. Some doctors propose adding corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy to frontotemporal dementia and calling the group Pick Complex. These designations will continue to be debated.

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Pick's Disease Definition

A form of dementia characterized by a slowly progressive deterioration of social skills and changes in personality leading to impairment of intellect, memory, and language.

The common core of symptoms includes loss of memory, lack of spontaneity, difficulty in thinking or concentrating, and disturbances of speech. Other symptoms include gradual emotional dullness, loss of moral judgment, and progressive dementia. The age of onset may range from 20 to 80 but is often between 40 and 60.

Pick disease is of unknown origin. The course ranges in duration from less than 2 years to more than 10 years. Death is usually caused by infection.

SOURCE:
MedTerms

What are the symptoms of frontotemporal dementia?

As it is defined today, the symptoms of frontotemporal dementia fall into two clinical patterns that involve either (1) changes in behavior, or (2) problems with language.

The first type features behavior that can be either impulsive (disinhibited) or bored and listless (apathetic) and includes

  • inappropriate social behavior;
  • lack of social tact;
  • lack of empathy;
  • distractability;
  • loss of insight into the behaviors of oneself and others;
  • an increased interest in sex;
  • changes in food preferences;
  • agitation or, conversely, blunted emotions;
  • neglect of personal hygiene;
  • repetitive or compulsive behavior, and
  • decreased energy and motivation.

The second type primarily features symptoms of language disturbance, including difficulty making or understanding speech, often in conjunction with the behavioral type's symptoms. Spatial skills and memory remain intact.

Is frontotemporal dementia inherited?

There is a strong genetic component to the disease; frontotemporal dementia often runs in families.

Is there any treatment for frontotemporal dementia?

No treatment has been shown to slow the progression of frontotemporal dementia. Behavior modification may help control unacceptable or dangerous behaviors. Aggressive, agitated, or dangerous behaviors could require medication. Antidepressants have been shown to improve some symptoms.

What is the prognosis (the outlook) for frontotemporal dementia?

The outcome for people with frontotemporal dementia is poor. The disease progresses steadily and often rapidly, ranging from less than 2 years in some individuals to more than 10 years in others. Eventually some individuals with frontotemporal dementia will need 24-hour care and monitoring at home or in an institutionalized care setting.

What research is being done on frontotemporal dementia?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and other institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), conduct research related to frontotemporal dementia in laboratories at the NIH, and also support additional research through grants to major medical institutions across the country.

Where can I find more information about frontotemporal dementia?

Association for Frontotemporal Dementias (AFTD)
Radnor Station Building #2 Suite 320
290 King of Prussia Road
Radnor, PA 19087
[email protected]
http://www.theaftd.org
Tel: 267-514-7221 866-507-7222

National Institute on Aging (NIA)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
31 Center Drive, Rm. 5C27 MSC 2292
Bethesda, MD 20892-2292
http://www.nia.nih.gov
Tel: 301-496-1752 800-222-2225

SOURCE:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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Reviewed on 5/16/2012
References
SOURCE:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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