Bruce Willis’s family revealed that the actor had frontotemporal dementia, or FTD. This type of dementia most frequently develops when the number of nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain declines. After receiving a diagnosis of aphasia, Mr. Willis, 67, decided to stop performing. The family said in a statement that FTD is a horrible disease that many of us have never heard of and may affect anyone.
There are two main types of FTD: behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia, which causes personality and behavioral problems, and primary progressive aphasia, which impairs a patient’s ability to communicate. According to Dr. Bruce Miller, a professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, “it strikes the regions of the brain that make us the most human.”
According to Susan Dickinson, the CEO of the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, FTD is the most common cause of dementia in those under the age of 60. According to her, 50,000 Americans have been diagnosed with FTD, though many experts believe that number to be significantly understated given how difficult it may be to diagnose.
Doctors diagnose the illness based on symptoms and neuroimaging rather than a blood test or specific biomarker. According to Ms. Dickinson, it typically takes patients more than three years to receive a proper diagnosis.
What are frontotemporal dementia’s initial symptoms?
Individuals who have primary progressive aphasia may find it difficult to talk in complete sentences or to follow discussions. They might struggle to write or read.