Working with aphasia is one of the main reasons I became a speech-language pathologist. Speech Therapy for Frontotemporal Dementia and Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) can look different than treatment for aphasia after a stroke. This is because of the progressive nature and unique challenges that come with the three variants of PPA. It is important to share what therapy can look like for this population and their families because therapy is often perceived as purely “rehab”- work on a deficit until it’s fixed. There are other interventions that are just as important if not more appropriate and impactful for this population.
Restorative and Compensatory Therapy Approaches:
For example, speech and language treatment targeting the person’s natural speech. This may include encouraging the person to express what they can say or to communicate in whatever way possible such as writing, drawing, and gesturing.
Aided Therapy Approaches:
For example, Alternative and Augmentative Communication systems to help aid or supplement a person’s speech. These can be in the form of low tech (paper-based) with images/symbols of messages the person wants to say or high-tech (speech-generating devices) with images/symbols that are personalized to the person’s needs and interests.
Communication Partner Training and Environmental Therapy Approaches:
For example, communication strategies/coaching for family, friends, and caregivers.
In addition, a speech-pathologist may provide education on ways to adapt the environment to optimize communication, memory, and independence.