Medications & Therapies To Treat Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

The exact cure for frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is not yet known, but with a combination of various treatments, some symptoms of Frontotemporal Dementia can be easily managed.

Medications for Behavioral Symptoms of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Medications for Behavioral Symptoms of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Medications for behavioral symptoms may begin with low doses and they can be eventually increased based on a person’s response as well as associated side effects. It would be better to quote that the side effects and the benefits are derived from clinical studies. The information that has been generated is based on the clinical experiences that come from various doctors.

Antidepressants for Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

While antidepressants are created for treating depression, they may also be helpful in treating disorders, obsessive compulsive behavior and to prevent panic attacks. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – a type of antidepressants may be helpful in alleviating the poor impulse control, aggressive impulses and yearning for carbohydrate due to early Pick’s or Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). People, who are suffering from Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), do not show various side effects that come with SSRIs. They are considered to be the best medicines for managing the awkward behavioral patterns.

Following are a few types of Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs):

  • Paroxetine (Paxil), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Escitalopram (Lexapro), Sertraline (Zoloft), Fluvoxamine (Luvox), Citalopram (Celexa.)

Following antidepressants that are not SSRIs may also be helpful:

  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin), Trazodone (Desyrel), Mirtazepine (Remeron), Venlafaxine (Effexor), Duloxetine (Cymbalta.)

Antipsychotics for Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Antipsychotic medications can help in blocking the dopamine effects that are known to increase delusions, hallucinations and alter thoughts that are rational. Some medications in lower doses can be prescribed for managing irrational, compulsive and aggressive behaviors that may lead to frontotemporal dementia.

The prospective benefits of antipsychotics may be compared with the risks like deteriorated thinking and movement, weight gain, acceleration of heart diseases as well. There may be rare incidents of death as well. Specific antipsychotics also relate to muscle problems and should not be consumed as Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) sufferers may show muscle trembling and stiffness. Examples of atypical antipsychotic medications include:

  • Ziprasidone (Geodon), Risperidone (Risperdal), Olanzepine (Zyprexa), Quetiapine (Ketipinor or Seroquel), Paliperidone (INVEGA), Aripiprazole (Abilify)

Anti-seizure medications that are used as mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety drugs may be useful in treating Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), even though they have not been studied thoroughly.

  • Gabapentin (Neurontin), Divalproex sodium (Depakote ER ,Depacon, Depakote, Depakene), Valproic acid, Carbamazepine (Tegretol)

Medications for Improving Memory and Attention of Frontotemporal Dementia Sufferers

An NMDA-receptor antagonist known as Memantine (Namenda) can be used for treating Alzheimer’s. There are associated proofs that suggest using this medication for the sufferers of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). The research for finding the exact effect of memantine is under process.

Medications that Frontotemporal Dementia Patients Should Avoid:

Cholinesterase inhibitors like galantamine (Razadyne), donepezil (Aricept) and rivastigmine (Exelon) are suggested for Alzheimer’s sufferers. They have a significant effect in increasing the acetylcholine amount that is essential for improving memory and attention. Regrettably, people suffering from Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) did not benefit from such medications and show signs of agitation upon their use. The cholinesterase inhibitors are often not prescribed for individuals who are analyzed with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD).

Benzodiazepines that are used for treating muscle spasms, insomnia, seizures, anxiety and agitation have been associated with an elevation in behavioral problems as well as memory and psychomotor skills injury.

Occupational Therapy for Treating Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Can occupational therapy help in treating frontotemporal dementia? The answer is yes; occupational therapy can be used for identifying the problems faced in everyday life of FTD Patients and find practical solutions for the same. Through this therapy, a person often gets support to complete their daily chores that are of prime importance. An occupational therapist has the ability to identify the strength and weaknesses that are faced in daily life. This may involve going to a grocery store or dressing up and the therapist will offer solutions for handling them.

The therapist can also recognize the goals and help in maintaining them independently by using a variety of tactics that can help you in adjusting to the changing environment. This may also involve the use of various equipments. Once the difficulties are recognized, the therapist may assist by:

  • Performing the activities in various stages
  • Employing or teaching unique ways to complete the task
  • Suggesting necessary changes for making the completion easier
  • Offering devices that will assist in an easy completion of task.

Speech Therapy for Patients with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Speech therapy can treat patients with frontotemporal dementia who are affected by language barriers and find it difficult to adjust and communicate. They may learn other ways for developing a communication bridge. Frustration, which is a frequent Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) symptom, can be maintained by communicating well.

People who develop aphasia from a stroke or head injury may improve with time. However, this is not the case with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) sufferers. The therapist may explore various ways and maximize the abilities that already exist just to help you communicate.

Pointing to pictures, gesturing that are techniques of non-verbal communication may be adopted for the sufferers of Semantic Dementia (SD) or Progressive Nonfluent Aphasia (PNFA), to express the thoughts well. Aphasia identification cards can help a person in communicating with other people for explaining the condition well. Many occupational therapists and speech therapists often employ their own methods. They are available at various medical centers and local hospitals. You can ask referrals from your family doctor.

Physiotherapy Treatment for Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) Sufferers

The difficulties in body movements can be tackled with physiotherapy. Physiotherapy offers treatment to all the frontotemporal dementia sufferers irrespective of their age and gender. Physiotherapists help in managing pain by using various methods that assist in early recovery. Even though therapists deal with musculoskeletal issues, physiotherapists are trained to offer help in a variety of areas. Physiotherapists often help individuals who have been affected by disability, injury or illness. Some of the following approaches may be used:

  • Flow and Exercise: After speculating the person’s current health and their needs as well as requirements.
  • Manual Therapy Approach: The therapist will use their hands for relieving the muscle pain as well as stiffness. They may employ various means of encouraging the blood flow to the affected area.
  • Water Therapy: A kind of physiotherapy that uses water as a treatment method.
  • Other Techniques: Like acupuncture, heat and cold for alleviating the pain.

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) for Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Cognitive stimulation therapy can be used for improving memory, language ability and problem solving skills in frontotemporal dementia patients.

Cognitive Stimulation therapy (CST) is a psychosocial treatment that is carried out for 14 sessions. It involves the use of various therapeutic approaches that are well researched. The therapy sessions may last up to 45 minutes and provides peer support to people that are suffering from loss of memory. Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) also helps individuals who are in moderate as well as mild stages of dementia.

Aromatherapy for Patients Suffering from Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Aromatherapy promotes relaxation and stress relief which can help the sufferers of frontotemporal dementia. It has been used for treating various physical and mental disorders that involve high blood pressure, depression, burns, insomnia and various infections. Nevertheless, there is less evidence that proves the effectiveness of aromatherapy in treating an illness like dementia.

Aromatherapy is also known as essential oils therapy that uses the aromatic oils of plants that produce it. The essential oils are extracted from the flowers, rind, roots, stalks, leaves and bark of a plant. These oils are mixed with a variety of substances like lotions and oils, which is then applied to the skin. You can also add them in bathing water or massage them into the skin.

Massage Therapy for People Suffering from Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Studies have shown that massage therapy can be used for treating or effectively treating muscle tension and pain as well as reducing stress. People suffering from frontotemporal dementia can also benefit from massage therapy. Massage involves the use rubbing, pressing or manipulating skin, tendons, muscles and ligaments. The therapists will use their fingers or hands for massaging that involve use of elbows, feet and forearms. The massage may range from deep pressures to light stroking as well. Massages are of different types, but the following are most commonly used:

  • Deep tissue massage: The techniques used in this massage are slower as well as forceful strokes that target deep muscle layers as well as connective tissues. This is done to revive the muscles from damage or injuries.
  • Trigger point massage: This type of massage concentrates on relieving the tension or pain from stiff muscles of a particular area that has been subjected to injury.
  • Swedish massage: This gentle massage form uses kneading, tapping, long strokes and deep circular movements for relaxing the muscles and alleviating the pain.

Music Therapy As A Treatment Option for Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

The sufferers of general dementia and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) can benefit hugely from music therapy and certain evidences have been derived in their favor. Music Therapy can help in:

  • Relieving stress
  • Reducing depression and anxiety
  • Agitation reduction

Caregivers can also benefit from listening to music as it helps in lightening the mood and reduce the level of anxiety as well.

Dance Therapy for Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) Patients

The victims of frontotemporal dementia suffer with movement disorders like poor coordination, rigidity etc… And Dance therapy can treat these symptoms in a positive way. Dance therapy is based on the fact of correlation between the body and mind. Dance therapists can help in tackling the emotional and mental problems that are held in the body through muscle tension and unnatural movement patterns.

Dance therapy is similar to exercising and can improve health, coordination, well-being and tone the muscles as well. People will feel more confident and joyful after the dance session as it compels them to get rid of frustration, anger or the thoughts that cannot be expressed. It also helps in enhancing motivation, memory and cognitive skills. The therapists will use specific moves depending on a person’s reaction to a certain situation.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 20, 2019

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