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What is primary progressive aphasia?

The syndrome of primary progressive aphasia 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 primary progressive aphasia 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.

Although primary progressive aphasia 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.

However, other 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. (National Aphasia Association)