Social Worker Darby Morhardt describes primary progressive aphasia.
Primary progressive aphasia is where language, word-finding, naming, naming of objects, those are the first symptoms. Again, memory is retained and people are able to function quite normally in other aspects of their daily life. They are just having a lot of difficulty with language.
Our director, Dr. Marsel Mesulam, was the first person in 1982 to describe a primary progressive aphasia, and that has now led a lot of researchers and clinicians to identify primary progressive aphasia. And now it has different subtypes, and I don’t want to go into all of those subtypes because it is very complicated and very difficult, and this is also an area that is quite new and very exciting in the research.
A lot more attention being paid to primary progressive aphasia, and it’s the, what to say, a sister diagnosis, but it’s been kind of part or put under this umbrella of frontotemporal dementia. And frontotemporal dementia is the diagnosis of where behavior, personality, and judgment are the first symptoms.
And the reason I think primary progressive aphasia is put under frontotemporal dementia is that PPA is in the, that the temporal lobe of the brain is where our language center is, and as PPA progresses, it often progresses to the frontal lobe of the brain which regulates our executive function, our ability to organize our lives, our personality, our judgment, etc.
About Darby Morhardt, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.:
Darby Morhardt is a research associate professor, the Director of Education, and a clinical research social worker at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Her research interests include early stage and Younger Onset dementia programs and services, the dynamics and functioning of caregiving families, the subjective experience of Alzheimer's disease, and primary care physician education.