Pick’s disease

Pick’s disease will cause a slow shrinking of the brain cells due to an excessive build-up of protein. It is actually an extremely rare form of dementia. People who suffer from Pick’s will initially show many behavioral and personality changes and this will eventually lead to the deterioration of their ability to speak coherently. Although it is estimated up to 7 million Americans suffer from dementia, only 5% of these dementias can account for Pick’s Disease. Pick’s disease is often misdiagnosed during the early stages as it resembles Alzheimer’s disease, depression or mental illness. However Pick’s disease has its very own set of characteristics to separate it from these other conditions. Unfortunately there is no specific cure however you can learn to effectively manage the disease by identifying its unique symptoms.

Pick’s disease was first described in 1892 by Arnold Pick who claimed that the disease will cause an irreversible decline in someone’s functioning over a period of years. Pick’s disease is extremely rare and will cause the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain to gradually waste away. It is these specific lobes which control a person speech and personality. Pick’s disease is very similar to Huntington’s disease and Lewy body disease as it is mainly caused by the build-up of protein in the affected areas of the brain. After eventually amassing these abnormal brain cells a marked change in a person’s character will become noticeable. These may include inappropriate behavior, poor decision-making and, in due course, dysfunctional memory, intellect and speech.

Pick’s disease is known to be more common in women than men and will usually strike between the ages of 40 to 60. The majority of risk factors of this disease are relatively unknown, although there is no evidence to support that there is a genetic component at work. Therefore family members should remain unaffected. The very first symptoms of Pick’s disease will typically involve a decline in basic functioning and certain personality changes. As the disease progresses, the symptoms will worsen over time. You will find that eventually some extremely severe symptoms tend to appear in the latter stages of Pick’s disease. These include: extreme restlessness, poor judgment, overeating, drinking to excess, sexual promiscuity, a lack of attention to personal hygiene, obsessive behavior, rude and impatient, poor attention span, completely unaware of any changes in behavior, a lack of empathy, a loss of vocabulary, repeating words you say, a decrease in the ability to read or write, complete loss of speech, difficulty moving about, lack of coordination, memory loss and general weakness.

In order to diagnose Pick’s disease a patient will require careful symptomatic evaluation in conjunction with brain scans and EEG’s. These techniques will help to determine whether the condition is actually Pick’s disease or perhaps another related disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms of these two dementias are fairly different and, therefore, diagnosis will help to conclude which condition a person is suffering. There are five key distinguishing features of Pick’s disease and if a patient is showing at least three of these, they are likely to be suffering from Pick’s rather than Alzheimer’s.

  • Initial personality changes
  • The onset of the disease starts before the age of 65
  • A lack of inhibition
  • And loss of normal controls which may lead to gluttony, hyper-sexuality, etc
  • Roaming behavior

You will actually find that the treatment for Pick’s disease is extremely similar to treatment that is involved for Alzheimer’s.

  • Certain medications prescribed to control behaviors that are considered dangerous to the sufferer and the people around them. These can include antidepressants that are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These are known to help reduce food cravings and will also provide some relief from depression and apathy. They can also help with the loss of impulse control and any compulsive activity the sufferer is showing.
  • Certain sensory function aids may be provided to improve a person’s failing senses. These can include eyeglasses or hearing aids.
  • In order to improve communication a number of certain professional therapies may be recommended. These may include speech and/or occupational therapy.
  • It is important to have some form of behavioral modification which may put systems in place that will reward positive behaviors and will help the person to reinforce appropriate behaviors.

The University of California/San Francisco Medical Center’s Memory and Aging Center have made quite an important discovery. It was found that a small group of frontotemporal dementia patients developed new creative skills. Whereas they may have lost the ability to communicate, some patients showed extreme artistic talents in music and art. It is believed that certain skills are accessed in order to promote self expression, while maintaining a patient’s quality of life.

Last updated on Dec 8th, 2010 and filed under Neurological Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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