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AJSLP-24-00013meade_SuppS1.pdf (261.08 kB)

Supporting communication in bvFTD patients (Meade et al., 2024)

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posted on 2024-06-06, 19:02 authored by Gabriela Meade, Mary M. Machulda, Heather M. Clark, Joseph R. Duffy, Hugo Botha, Jennifer L. Whitwell, Keith A. Josephs, Rene L. Utianski

Purpose: We describe the communication challenges of four patients with a neurodegenerative disorder consistent with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), characterized by early behavioral and personality changes. By describing their clinical profiles, we identify common barriers to functional communication in this population and provide recommendations for how speech-language pathologists (SLPs) might contribute to minimizing them.

Method: Four patients with bvFTD were selected from a cohort of patients with progressive communication impairments. Three of them returned for at least one follow-up visit. Case histories are presented along with the results of comprehensive speech and language, neuropsychological, and neurological testing.

Results: At the time of initial evaluation, patients were between the ages of 54 and 66 years and had been experiencing symptoms for 1.5–6 years. Consistent with their bvFTD diagnoses, all patients had prominent behavioral and personality changes that impacted communication. Patients 1 and 2 also had mild aphasia at enrollment, primarily characterized by anomia and loss of word meaning. Patients 3 and 4 both had apraxia of speech and moderate-to-severe aphasia at enrollment with prominent anomia and agrammatism. All four patients had impaired executive functioning and relative sparing of visuospatial skills; episodic memory was also impaired for Patients 2 and 4. Even though functional communication was progressively limited for all patients, none of them received regular support from an SLP.

Conclusions: This case series adds to a scant, but growing, literature demonstrating that patients with bvFTD have communication impairments. SLPs are uniquely positioned to identify barriers to functional communication and to provide tailored strategy training to the patients and their care partners over the course of their disease. Systematic evaluation of the efficacy of treatment in this population would be valuable.

Supplemental Material S1. Supplemental tasks from the Western Aphasia Battery–Revised.

Meade, G., Machulda, M. M., Clark, H. M., Duffy, J. R., Botha, H., Whitwell, J. L., Josephs, K. A., & Utianski, R. L. (2024). Identifying and addressing functional communication challenges in patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 33(4), 1573–1589. https://doi.org/10.1044/2024_AJSLP-24-00013

Funding

Funding was provided by National Institutes of Health Grants R01-DC14942 (awarded to Utianski/Josephs), R01-DC12519 (awarded to Whitwell), and R21-NS94684 (awarded to Josephs).

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