Catch Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) Sooner:
A new calculator may help clinicians identify and decipher PPA variants earlier.
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a dementia diagnosis once thought to be very rare, however, a better understanding of the neurodegenerative disorder in conjunction with earlier detection tools is helping individuals be more accurately and efficiently diagnosed. A new calculator tool developed by researchers and clinicians at the University of Sydneys' Brain and Mind Research Institute is working to help differentiate the variants of PPA in its early stages, thus allowing individuals to begin treatments sooner.
The tool is a free online calculator that draws on commonly used cognitive screening tests, such as the Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination-III (ACE-III) (Foxe et al., 2022). The 3 main variants of PPA are lopogenic (difficulty finding the right words or understanding others), progressive non-fluent (poor grammar or difficulty talking fluently), and semantic (difficulty naming objects or understanding the meaning of stand-alone words). Because the exact form can get hard to diagnose in the early stages, they often are either missed or misdiagnosed as another form of dementia (commonly Alzheimer's) and can lead to incorrect or delayed treatment and care.
"Based on patient data from the university's dementia research group, the tool appears to predict a PPA diagnosis with a sensitivity rate of 70-80%" (ASHAWIRE, 2022). The calculator reportedly demonstrates high accuracy in differentiating the variants based on the ACE-III profile. It is the hope of the clinic that these tools will be highly useful for rural areas where access to dementia clinics are not as available, opening up more care options for individuals with this progressive neurodegenerative disease process.
Cleveland Clinic Medical. (n.d.). Primary progressive aphasia (PPA): Symptoms & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17387-primary-progressive-aphasia-ppa. Retrieved 05/24/2023.
Foxe, D., Hu, A., Cheung, S. C., Ahmed, R. M., Cordato, N. J., Devenney, E., Hwang, Y. T., Halliday, G. M., Mueller, N., Leyton, C. E., Hodges, J. R., Burrell, J. R., Irish, M., & Piguet, O. (2022). Utility of the addenbrooke’s cognitive examination III online calculator to differentiate the primary progressive aphasia variants. Brain Communications, 4(4). https://doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcac161
New tool improves primary progressive aphasia detection. ASHAWIRE. (2022, September 9). https://leader.pubs.asha.org/do/10.1044/leader.RIB1.27092022.slp-aphasia-detection.14/full/