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Understanding Primary Progressive Asphasia

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Understanding Primary Progressive Aphasia

• Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a rare neurological syndrome in which language capabilities become slowly and progressively impaired.

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• The syndrome of PPA has been defined by Mesulam and colleagues as a progressive disorder of language, with preservation of other mental functions and of activities of daily living, for at least two years. Primary progressive aphasia is not Alzheimer’s disease. Most people with PPA maintain ability to take care of themselves, pursue hobbies, and, in some instances, remain employed. The problem is a disorder of language; and signs and symptoms of other clinical syndromes are not found through tests routinely used to determine the presence of other conditions.

• PPA may take a number of forms, it commonly appears initially as a disorder of speaking (an articulatory problem), progressing to nearly total inability to speak in its most severe stage, while comprehension remains relatively preserved. A less common variety begins with impaired word finding and progressive deterioration of naming and comprehension, with relatively preserved articulation.

• Neurological disorders exist in which progressive deterioration of language is only one component of a broad, progressive decline of mental functions, including memory, attention, visuospatial skills, reasoning and the carrying out of complex motor activities. These diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Pick’s disease and Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, should be excluded by appropriate neurologic examinations, when a person experiences progressive language decline.

Source: National Asphasia Association

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