Actor Bruce Willis‘s family announced on Thursday that he had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, a disease that causes nerve damage in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. This condition can lead to a loss of function in those areas and present with various symptoms, including challenges with speaking, writing, comprehension, empathy, judgment, and conduct.
What is Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)?
Frontotemporal dementia, also known as FTD, is one of several types of dementia that primarily affects individuals between the ages of 40 and 60. The disease leads to the deterioration of nerve cells in the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes, which are responsible for language, behavior, and personality.
Types of Frontotemporal Dementia
There are different types of FTD, including behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia and primary progressive aphasia. The former type affects the areas of the brain that control empathy, judgment, and conduct, while the latter deteriorates the parts that control speaking, writing, and comprehension. FTD can also disrupt motor function and movement, leading to classification as Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS.
FTD vs. Alzheimer’s
Diagnoses of FTD tend to occur between the ages of 40 and 60, while Alzheimer’s typically presents at a later age. Also, Alzheimer’s is more closely tied to memory loss, hallucinations, and issues with spatial orientation, such as getting lost.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Doctors diagnose FTD using brain imaging technologies, such as MRIs, in conjunction with patients’ medical histories and symptoms. About 30% of individuals with frontotemporal degeneration inherit the disease, and there are no known risk factors. Although there are medications that can help relieve FTD symptoms, the disease inevitably worsens over time.
In conclusion, while it is sad to hear about Bruce Willis’ diagnosis, it is crucial to understand what FTD is, its symptoms, and how it differs from other types of dementia. If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is essential to speak with a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.