What Is Primary Progressive Aphasia?
Primary progressive aphasia — or PPA — is a health condition that differs from other types of aphasia. Unlike PPA, aphasia is caused by events such as stroke or traumatic brain injury. PPA is a neurological syndrome in which the language centers of the brain degenerate over time.
When aphasia is caused by a stroke or traumatic brain injury, the symptoms typically occur suddenly with recovery taking place in the months that follow. PPA symptoms, on the other hand, typically present themselves gradually. It usually presents as a mild speech or language impairment. It might be issues with speech rhythm or intonation. It could be difficulty finding words that once came easily, or lack of comprehension. As PPA progresses, the symptoms become more severe. Eventually, most people with PPA lose verbal language abilities. Reading and writing abilities, too, are likely to be lost.
For many, a PPA diagnosis will bring forth many emotions. You might be shocked, angered, and scared. You might experience deep sadness and grief at the prospect of losing the life you know. And you might even feel a sense of relief that comes with finally knowing for certain why you’ve been having speech or language difficulties. Most people will experience a mixture of these various emotions.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for PPA. However, a PPA diagnosis does not make you powerless. There are treatments and strategies that have the ability to slow the progression of PPA and extend your quality of life.
No two people will respond to a PPA diagnosis in the same way. There is no universal experience. Likewise, there is no right or wrong way to react. These tips that follow are by no means the only way to move forward following a PPA diagnosis, but hopefully will lend guidance where needed.
Tips for Coping with a PPA Diagnosis
Don’t be hard on yourself. PPA is not your fault. Treat yourself kindly today, tomorrow, and every day.
Feel your feelings. Distractions can help to temporarily forget unpleasant emotions, but ultimately the path forward is made through acceptance. Allow yourself to feel and acknowledge all the emotions.
Familiarize yourself with PPA. By learning about PPA and its progression, you can better prepare for the future.
Stay true to who you are. PPA does not have to define you. You are still you. How did you define yourself before the diagnosis? Pursue all that does define your sense of self.
Talk to someone. Speaking with a therapist can help you process your feelings about PPA. Likewise, religious or spiritual counsel
Stay connected. Your relationships can affect your attitude and health. Consider the relationships that make you feel the best, and maintain them.
Act early. Once you’ve been diagnosed with PPA, you can begin to manage it. Communication tools like AAC devices can help you maintain your communication, practice your speech, and preserve your voice.
Lingraphica Can Help
We help adults with speech and language impairments to reconnect with family and friends, improve communication, and live their best lives. Call us at 866-570-8775 or visit the link below to get started.
My wife of 72 years has been diagnosed with PPA for 2-3 years. She is no longer speak or understand communication. Is there help available for her to communicate?
Hello MB! I’m sorry to hear about your wife’s diagnosis. We would be happy to talk to you to discuss possible solutions for her communication. You can call us directly at 866-570-8775 or click here to schedule a free consultation.