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Speech and language therapy approaches to managing primary progressive aphasia
  1. Anna Volkmer1,
  2. Emily Rogalski2,3,
  3. Maya Henry4,
  4. Cathleen Taylor-Rubin5,6,
  5. Leanne Ruggero5,
  6. Rebecca Khayum2,
  7. Jackie Kindell7,
  8. Maria Luisa Gorno-Tempini8,9,
  9. Jason D Warren10,
  10. Jonathan D Rohrer10
  1. 1 Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2 Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease, Northwestern University (NU) Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  3. 3 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University (NU) Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  4. 4 Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA
  5. 5 Department of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  6. 6 Speech Pathology Department, War Memorial Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  7. 7 Division of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  8. 8 Department of Neurology, Memory and Aging Center, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  9. 9 Dyslexia Center, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  10. 10 Dementia Research Centre, Department of Neurodegenerative Disease, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jonathan D Rohrer, Department of Neurodegenerative Disease, University College London Institute of Neurology, London WC1N 3BG, UK; j.rohrer{at}


The term primary progressive aphasia (PPA) describes a group of neurodegenerative disorders with predominant speech and language dysfunction as their main feature. There are three main variants – the semantic variant, the nonfluent or agrammatic variant and the logopenic variant – each with specific linguistic deficits and different neuroanatomical involvement. There are currently no curative treatments or symptomatic pharmacological therapies. However, speech and language therapists have developed several impairment-based interventions and compensatory strategies for use in the clinic. Unfortunately, multiple barriers still need to be overcome to improve access to care for people with PPA, including increasing awareness among referring clinicians, improving training of speech and language therapists and developing evidence-based guidelines for therapeutic interventions. This review highlights this inequity and the reasons why neurologists should refer people with PPA to speech and language therapists.

  • aphasia
  • primary progressive aphasia
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • speech therapy

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  • Contributors AV and JDR drafted the original version of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the critical review and final manuscript.

  • Funding JDR is an MRC Clinician Scientist (MR/M008525/1) and has received funding from the NIHR Rare Diseases Translational Research Collaboration (BRC149/NS/MH), the Bluefield Project and the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration. JDW receives grant support from the Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Research UK. ER is supported by AG055425 and AG13854 (Alzheimer Disease Core Centre) from the National Institute on Ageing. AV is funded by an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship (DRF-2015-08-182).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned. Externally peer reviewed by Michael O’Sullivan, Queensland, Australia.

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