PPA: What You Need to Know

Primary Progressive Aphasia – What You Need to Know

Primary Progressive Aphasia, or PPA, is a form of dementia that causes increasing difficulties with wordfinding, grammar production, and/or word comprehension over time. Personality and thinking skills such as memory and face recognition are initially preserved in this condition.

PPA can be caused by Alzheimer’s Disease or Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD) neuropathology. Language impairment (or aphasias) caused by head trauma, stroke, or brain tumor do not qualify for a PPA diagnosis.

There is currently no cure for PPA. However, persons living with PPA and their families benefit from support by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals including, but not limited to: neurologists, neuropsychologists, social workers, and speech-language pathologists. A speech-language pathologist (or speech therapist) can help those with PPA and their families develop personalized strategies or supports to help facilitate communication as the disease progresses.

The Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease at Northwestern University provides expert clinical care and research opportunities for those living with PPA and their families. Research opportunities include:

PPA Pic 1The observational primary progressive aphasia (PPA) research program at Northwestern University seeks to study individuals living with PPA over time using neuropsychological testing and advanced imaging techniques. Participants are asked to come to Chicago in order to help: o better understand progression in PPA and its link to brain changes, o increase awareness of PPA and better educate patients, families, and clinicians, and o identify biomarkers that will lead to earlier diagnosis and earlier intervention. Participants are compensated for participation and travel expenses and meals are covered for those not local to Chicago.

PPA Pic 2The Communication Bridge study is an internet-based, speech therapy intervention for individuals with Primary Progressive Aphasia and their Communication Partner. A Communication Partner can be a spouse, relative, or close friend that will participate in the study along with the individual with PPA. The goal of the study is to understand how speechlanguage therapy affects communication abilities in people living with PPA. All study visits take place over the Internet in your home. We will provide you with a computer for the length of the study. We will connect through a video-chat program on the computer. The study lasts about one year. You will complete 5 evaluations with a licensed speechlanguage therapist, 15 one-hour speech therapy sessions with a licensed speech-language therapist, and home exercises on the computer we provide you. This study accepts persons all over the world, but they do have to be in the mild impairment stage of PPA, have a communication partner willing to participate, and sufficient internet connection.

To learn about participating in PPA research at our Center, please visit: https://www.brain.northwestern.edu/join/details.html?id=STU00206086 For information about Clinical Care at our Neurobehavior and Memory Clinic please visit: https://www.nm.org/conditions-and-care-areas/neurosciences/neurobehavior-and-memory-clinic

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