Patient of lesser-known form of dementia raises awareness

4:10 PM, Oct 8, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - There's a form of dementia that is relatively unknown and often misdiagnosed.

It's called Frontotemporal Degeneration or FTD and it's changed the life of Chanhassen's Todd Dolan.

A long-time guitar player and singer, he has a hard time finding words, but his fingers still find the right strings.

Dolan was diagnosed with FTD three years ago.

"I was having a lot of insecurity in my thinking, within my anxiety," he said.

He also has a hard time organizing thoughts and his wife Deb said he has lost empathy.

"I would sit at night," she said, "and I would think, 'I know he loves me, and I know he loves our grandchildren. What is happening? Why isn't he in touch?'"

A brain scan can help diagnose FTD, but it's often mistaken for bi-polar disorder or Alzheimer's disease.

"In contrast to Alzheimer's disease this is a condition that primarily affects behavior and can compromise language as well," said Dr. Michael Rosenbloom, behavioral neurologist with Health Partners Center for Memory and Aging.

Rosenbloom said that FTD is one of the more common causes of young onset dementia, in those younger than 60.

"You can say about nine to 10 percent of dementia (cases) are due to FTD," he explained.

Rosenbloom said symptoms of FTD are caused by atrophy in the front of the brain, compared to the back of the brain for Alzheimer's.

Depending on which side of the brain has atrophy, right or left, patients may either become uninhibited in public or they may have problems coming up with words like Todd.

There is some research but currently no proven treatment for FTD.

Todd hopes by sharing his story, others will at least know what FTD is.

There's an FTD Awareness brunch on Sunday, Oct. 13 at Oak Ridge Country Club in Hopkins from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

You can learn more about the disease from the Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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