MORE ABOUT BECKY’S CON­DI­TION

YOU (South Africa) - - NEWS -

Fron­totem­po­ral de­men­tia (FTD) is a rare de­bil­i­tat­ing brain disease, says Dr Ali­son Richard­son, a Cape Town neu­rol­o­gist.

It af­fects the frontal and tem­po­ral lobes of the brain, chang­ing a per­son’s lan­guage pat­terns, be­hav­iour and per­son­al­ity. Mem­ory loss is com­mon.

Becky’s age is ex­tremely un­usual for the con­di­tion, Richard­son says. The av­er­age age for FTD di­ag­no­sis is about 64. The disease is con­sid­ered hered­i­tary and in 40 to 50% of cases the pa­tient has an af­fected fam­ily mem­ber. In a fur­ther 25% of cases it’s passed down from a par­ent.

WHAT ARE THE SYMP­TOMS?

Pa­tients be­come dis­in­hib­ited and de­velop Witzel­sucht Syn­drome, which causes them to have a silly sense of hu­mour and say in­ap­pro­pri­ate things, of­ten of a sex­ual na­ture.

At the other end of the spec­trum they can be­come ap­a­thetic, not leav­ing their room or talk­ing to any­one. They may also ne­glect per­sonal hy­giene. A com­mon symp­tom is oral­ity, the com­pul­sion to put things in their mouth. “Util­i­sa­tion” is an­other habit: pa­tients tend to ma­nip­u­late any ob­ject they find, such as pick­ing up a pen and stick­ing it in their ear, Richard­son ex­plains.

HOW IS FTD TESTED?

The pa­tient un­der­goes in­ten­sive neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal test­ing to check for im­pair­ment of frontal and tem­po­ral lobe func­tion. An MRI or brain scan also tests for shrink­age of the brain.

CAN IT BE TREATED OR PRE­VENTED?

Only symp­toms can be treated, for ex­am­ple by putting a pa­tient on an­tide­pres­sants and sleep med­i­ca­tion, as they of­ten de­velop in­som­nia. If you’re ge­net­i­cally pre­dis­posed to the disease the best way to pre­vent or stall FTD is to have a healthy lifestyle, main­tain a low body mass in­dex and avoid lifestyle dis­eases such as hy­per­ten­sion or di­a­betes. Puz­zles and read­ing can also help to keep the brain sharp.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.