September 24th through October 1st is Frontotemporal Degeneration Awareness Week and Great Speech would like to take the time to raise understanding and offer a unique virtual care solution to ease the challenges of deteriorating speech and communications skills that may accompany progression of this degenerative disease.
While other degenerative brain conditions are often well-known, Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) is often left in the shadows. FTD affects roughly 60,000 people in the US and is often misdiagnosed. Bringing awareness to FTD can help with early diagnosis, help support caregivers and demonstrate the importance of speech therapy for individuals with FTD.
What is FTD?
Frontotemporal Degeneration is a group of rare brain disorders characterized by progressive damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. FTD can often be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Most recent studies show that on average it takes over three years to get an accurate diagnosis. Additionally, most cases occur between the ages of 45 and 64 with a life expectancy of 7-13 years after symptoms start.
FTD Increases Caregiver Burden
FTD brings on a great amount of caregiver burden and because the disease can strike at a young age it has a tremendous impact on work, family, friends and finances. Recently, actor Bruce Willis was diagnosed with FTD and his wife Emma Heming opened up about the burdens of the disease and its impact on caregivers. In an Instagram video posted by Emma, she details how hard it is to care for someone with FTD and that those who care for individuals struggling with FTD go through sadness and grief every day.
Speech Therapy Can Help Ease Patient and Caregiver Burdens
Enrolling a loved one in speech therapy can greatly help ease caregiver burden and address issues of Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). Through virtual speech therapy, individuals with FTD can go through exercises to potentially increase social interaction and help with changes in behavior.
Individuals with FTD often have trouble communicating with friends and loved ones, so it is not uncommon for them to withdraw from society. At Great Speech, our national network of 200+ licensed Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs) are ready to support patients. When patients can remember specifics, it helps them process thoughts and better communicate. Great Speech also uses a patient matching algorithm that matches a patient to the SLP that has interest and experience addressing this specialty. This ensures that patients with FTD will be matched with the best therapist possible for their specific needs.
This specialized support helps with socialization and can diminish the onset of depression and loneliness or accelerated deterioration. Clearer communications help individuals feel more confident and likely to interact with others and reconnect with friends and loved ones.
Furthermore, a telling sign of FTD is a drastic change in behavior causing individuals with FTD to behave inappropriately in social or work settings stemming from their inability to properly communicate. Speech therapy can help patients feel heard, speak more effectively and abandon poor behavior that they may have used to get attention.
Benefits of Virtual Speech Therapy for Individuals with FTD
Scheduling flexibility is one of the most sought-after benefits of Great Speech’s virtual speech therapy programs, making access to care easier for the patient, caregiver and family. We offer appointments in the evenings and on weekends without interfering with any ongoing appointments or other treatment regimes. Online speech therapy also offers the ability to receive care from the comfort of home – a very important benefit for those suffering from FTD as they are prone to falling. The ability to receive care at home also eliminates any transportation or geographical barriers limiting access to care.
Another unique benefit only offered by Great Speech is access to the Great Speech portal where patients can access synchronous sessions with a licensed SLP and asynchronous “homework” to reinforce learning and help maintain speech and communication progress.
At Great Speech we are proud partners with an ever-growing number of Medicare Advantage and commercial health insurance plans making access to care easier for individuals around the nation.
Frontotemporal Degeneration Awareness Week serves as a beacon of hope for those affected by this often-overlooked disease. Through increased awareness, early detection and caregiver support, we can make a real difference in the lives of individuals and families facing FTD. By coming together during this dedicated week, we can shed light on FTD and work towards a future where no one has to face this devastating disease alone.
If a loved one or someone you know may be suffering from FTD, schedule an introductory call today! Online Speech Therapy – Schedule Your Introductory Call (greatspeech.com)