Skip to main content
Related Dementias

Diagnosing Frontotemporal Disorders

Frontotemporal disorders can be hard to diagnose because their symptoms—changes in personality and behavior and difficulties with speech and movement—are similar to those of other conditions. For example, bvFTD is sometimes misdiagnosed as a mood disorder, such as depression, or as a stroke, especially when there are speech or movement problems. To make matters more confusing, a person can have both a frontotemporal disorder and another type of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease. Also, since these disorders are rare, physicians may be unfamiliar with the relevant symptoms and signs.Doctor discussing frontotemporal disorders with an older couple

Getting the wrong diagnosis can be frustrating. Without knowing their true condition, people with frontotemporal disorders may not get appropriate treatment to manage their symptoms. Families may not get the help they need. People lose valuable time needed to plan treatment and future care.

Researchers are studying ways to diagnose frontotemporal disorders earlier and more accurately. One area of research involves biomarkers, such as proteins or other substances in the blood or cerebrospinal fluid, which can be used to measure the progress of disease or the effects of treatment. Also being studied are ways to improve brain imaging, including seeing the tau protein, and neuropsychological testing. New diagnostic methods under study may help distinguish frontotemporal disorders from other types of dementia.

For more information, see Diagnosing Dementia.

Here is a list of medical centers where people with frontotemporal disorders can be diagnosed and treated:

Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center
Department of Neurology
New York, NY

Indiana University School of Medicine
Indiana Alzheimer's Disease Center
Indianapolis, IN

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Frontotemporal Dementia and Young-Onset Dementias Clinic
Baltimore, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital
Frontotemporal Disorders Unit
Boston, MA

Mayo Clinic
Department of Neurology

Rochester, MN

Jacksonville, FL

Scottsdale, AZ

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center
Chicago, IL

University of Alabama, Birmingham
Neurology Department, Division of Memory Disorders
Birmingham, AL

University of California, Los Angeles
Behavioral Neurology Clinic
Los Angeles, CA

University of California, San Diego
Department of Neurosciences Movement Disorder Center
La Jolla, CA

University of California, San Francisco
Memory and Aging Center
San Francisco, CA

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Department of Neurology
Chapel Hill, NC

University of Pennsylvania Health System
Penn Frontotemporal Degeneration Center
Philadelphia, PA

Washington University
Department of Neurology
St. Louis, MO