Pick’s disease is also known in the medical profession as Frontotemporal Dementia, which is a rare form of dementia that affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, the areas responsible for personality and speech.
Because the disease is rare with only 5% of all dementias being diagnosed as having Pick’s disease, relatively little is know about it, however heredity factors seem to play a role. What research exists suggest that where someone has suffered from the disease, there is a propensity for 50% of their children to developing the condition.
When chemical analyses has been undertaken there is evidence to suggest that the disease develops as a result of protein build-up in the affected areas of the brain, i.e. the frontal and temporal lobes. This build-up leads to changes in personality and character which manifest in socially inappropriate behaviour such as lack if inhibitions, increased sexual appetite, a deterioration in social skills, in appropriate euphoric outbursts, rudeness, aggressiveness and gluttony leading to morbid obesity. Also the urge to touch and take anything that happens to be in their line of vision is common.
As the disease progress the ability to make rational decisions is lost, also the inability to conduct a lengthy conversation, maintain a line of thought, the inability to find words easily and have a tendency to being easily distracted, are all familiar patterns as the memory, speech and intellect is ravished by the disease.
The disease usually develop between 40 and 60 years of age, however it can develop earlier in some cases or as late as 80 years of age, with a slightly higher incidence of the disease occurring in women.
The only way that Pick’s disease can be conclusively diagnosed is through an autopsy after death. However, whilst still living a probable diagnosis can be made with the aid of an Electro Encephalogram (EEG) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, plus the on-going observation of the individual’s behaviour.
Pick’s disease is often confused with Alzheimer’s disease, however unlike Alzheimer’s; because of its rarity, less research material is available. Like Alzheimer’s there is no available cure for Pick’s disease, nor can its progression be slowed down with medication. Because of the lack of scientific interest there are no drugs trials taking place currently. Physicians are reluctant to prescribe the same drugs uses for Alzheimer’s patients because from their observations they have a tendency to increase aggressive behavior in the Pick’s disease.
From on-set, the life-expectancy is anything from 2 to 15 years with an average of 6 to 12 years, with death usually caused by an infection. Caring for a family member who has developed any kind of dementia can be very distressing. However, Pick’s disease can be even more difficult to handle, because the disease is less understood, develops at an earlier age and is characterised by language problems very early on in the disease, often even before the disease has been diagnosed.