Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a progressively worsening impairment of language skills over a period of at least two years. This condition is different from other forms of aphasia (from stroke or brain injury) as it typically results from neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration. Primary progressive aphasia usually appears initially as a speech or language disorder (difficulty with articulation of sounds or finding words), progressing to significant communication impairments or even the inability to speak at all. There are multiple types of PPA, but every individual presents in a unique way. Many people with early onset or mild PPA are still able to take care of themselves and participate in activities of daily living including hobbies and employment. This may become more difficult as the disease progresses. They may also have increasing difficulties in their thinking and memory skills over time. 

Primary Progressive Aphasia Diagnosis and Treatment

At Wake Forest Baptist Health, our speech-language pathologists will meet with you, take your medical history, and perform a comprehensive language evaluation. Evaluation will include a formal assessment of your ability to communicate. This will include your ability to express yourself in words/speech, read, write, and understand what you hear. You may also be recommended for comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation.

The information gathered during the evaluation with the speech-language pathologist will be used to establish a treatment plan that is right for you. Therapy may include learning new communication strategies to better compensate for the language impairment. For example, some people benefit from using communication assistive devices and non-verbal communication techniques. Therapy also often involves training caregivers how to optimize the environment for more effective communication (face-to-face conversations with minimal background noise and distractions).