Treatment for Primary Progressive Aphasia

There are no pills yet for PPA. Because of the 30-40 percent probability of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), some physicians will prescribe AD drugs such as:

  • Exelon (rivastigmine)
  • Razadyne (galantamine)
  • Aricept (donepezil)
  • Namenda (memantine)

None have been shown to improve PPA. Medicine is also sometimes prescribed to manage behavioral symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or agitation, which may occur later in the course of the illness.

There are, however, life-enriching interventions and speech therapies that can help improve a diagnosed person’s quality of life. The primary goal of treatment for language impairments in individuals with PPA is to improve the ability to communicate. Because the type of language problems experienced by patients with PPA may vary, the focus of treatment for improving communication ability will also vary.

A complete speech and language evaluation provides the information needed to determine the type of treatment that is most appropriate. There are two basic approaches to speech therapy for PPA. One approach is to focus treatment directly on the language skills that are impaired (for example, skills to enhance word-retrieval abilities), and the other is to provide augmentative/alternative communication strategies or devices. 

We recommend that both treatment approaches be used in people with PPA. Regardless of which strategies are provided to people with PPA, it is important that the family is involved in treatment and that the use of the strategy in the natural environment is encouraged.