What is Pick Disease of Brain?
Pick Disease of the Brain is an extremely rare pathological condition of the brain in which there is progressively worsening and irreversible dementia or in other words the brain does not function normally. Pick Disease of the Brain results in the individual having severe difficulty with carrying out his or her activities of daily living due to difficulty with language, behavioral issues, proper thinking, problems with judgment, and loss of memory. Pick Disease of the Brain tends to cause severe personality changes in the affected individual.
Pick Disease of the Brain unlike Alzheimer Disease which is another form of dementia only affects certain areas of the brain which is usually the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Thus, it is also referred to as frontotemporal dementia as well. The frontal lobe of the brain controls vital functions of everyday life including judgment, emotions, communication, behavior, executive functions and some types of movements and hence if this lobe gets affected then the individual finds it very difficult to socialize and perform everyday tasks due to Pick Disease of the Brain.
What Causes Pick Disease of Brain?
The main cause of Pick Disease of the Brain is the accumulation of a type of nerve cell protein called as Tau. These nerve cell proteins are present in all nerve cells of the body but in Pick Disease of the Brain these proteins tend to accumulate in clumps and are known as Pick cells. When this accumulation takes place in the frontal or the temporal lobes of the brain then that starts causing the cells in these areas to degenerate causing loss of memory or dementia.
Now, the reason behinds these proteins getting accumulated in the brain is not yet known but there has been studies that suggest a genetic role in play here with some abnormal genes causing these proteins to accumulate in the brain causing Pick Disease of the Brain. There have also been cases of familial occurrences of Pick Disease of the Brain meaning that this disease runs in families of an affected individual.
What are the Symptoms of Pick Disease of Brain?
The symptoms of Pick Disease of the Brain tend to get progressively worse as the time passes and the disease progresses. The symptoms tend to get worse to the point that the affected individual will find it difficult to even adequately interact with people. The behavioral changes due to Pick Disease of the Brain will be so evident that the individual will not be able to conduct himself or herself in a socially acceptable manner or behave in a social environment. Some of the emotional and psychological symptoms of Pick Disease of the Brain are:
- Frequent mood swings
- Inappropriate behavior
- Loss of interest in activities that he or she was previously fond of
- Social withdrawal
- Finding it tough to stay in one job
- Inadequate social skills
- Not practicing good hygiene
- Repetitive behaviors.
Some of other symptoms that an individual will experience due to Pick Disease of the Brain are:
- Difficulty with reading, writing, and comprehension
- Repeating words again and again
- Problems with speaking and understanding speech
- Diminishing sense of vocabulary
- Rapid memory loss
The main difference between Pick Disease of the Brain and Alzheimer disease is the rapid onset of personality changes in the patient which helps a physician to pinpoint towards a diagnosis of Pick Disease of the Brain. Also, the age of onset of this condition is pretty low with cases of Pick Disease of the Brain being reported in individuals within the ages of 20 years. Normally, symptoms of Pick Disease of the Brain begin between the ages of 40-60 years of age.
How is Pick Disease of Brain Diagnosed?
There is no specific test that can confirmatively diagnose Pick Disease of the Brain. In order to get to the diagnosis, the physician will take a detailed history of the patient inquiring about the onset of symptoms, any family history of any neurological conditions like Alzheimer disease or any other condition of the brain which may lead to memory loss and other behavioral symptoms. The physician may also conduct a memory test for the patient to check for patient's long term and short term memory.
Once these tests are done, advanced imaging in the form of CT scan or MRI of the brain will be done to look for areas of brain degeneration or loss of brain tissues. These imaging studies will help the physician identify if there are any changes occuring within the structure of the brain and also help the physician rule out other conditions causing the symptoms.
Blood tests may be done to check for thyroid and B12 levels as deficiency of these two can also cause memory loss. Once all other conditions have been successfully ruled out then the diagnosis is confirmed of Pick Disease of the Brain.
How is Pick Disease of Brain Treated?
As of now, there is no specific or curative treatment for Pick Disease of the Brain. The treatments are basically aimed at easing out the symptoms. Antidepressants will be prescribed to deal with the depression. Antipsychotics will be prescribed to deal with the emotional and behavioral changes that the patient will have due to Pick Disease of the Brain. The physician may also offer treatments for conditions which may worsen the symptoms like treatment for anemia which may increase mood swings, fatigue, and weakness. Any thyroid disorders that may be present which again may worsen the symptoms will also be treated accordingly. Apart from this, there is no other way to either treat or slow down the progression of Pick Disease of the Brain.
What is the Prognosis & Life Expectancy of Patients with Pick Disease of Brain?
The overall prognosis of individuals with Pick Disease of the Brain is quite poor with a life span of about 4-5 years after the diagnosis of Pick Disease of the Brain. During the advanced stages of the disease, the patient will need 24 hour care and will be completely disabled and thus will need to be shifted to a care facility to make the patient as comfortable as possible while battling Pick Disease of the Brain.