Your doctor will first take a careful and detailed family and medical history. Family members or friends may also be questioned about your behaviour because sometimes you may be unaware of the symptoms yourself. A neurological examination will be done to determine your mental status as well as check for signs of deterioration of motor or sensory skills. Several blood tests, spinal fluid tests and brain imaging studies (such as MRI - Magnetic Resonance Imaging or a CAT - Computerized Axial Tomography scan) can be conducted. Computerized images of your brain can be used to check for abnormalities such as atrophy (shrinkage) of the brain tissue. However, in early stages, these may not show up on the scan.
Neuropsychological examination will be the next phase of testing. This involves evaluating whether your symptoms are psychiatric. These are detailed tests and require several hours of testing. Tests may be paper or computer based and their basic function is to test your mental abilities such as attention span, concentration, language, learning/memory, visual perception, reasoning and mood. The results of these tests can indicate if there are abnormalities of thinking and behaviour, and whether these are mild, moderate or advanced.
Speech and language evaluation is a crucial test as a decline in language abilities is the primary symptom of primary progressive aphasia. Your doctor will attempt to determine which components of language are most affected, their severity, and the measures that can be taken to improve communication.
Family members will be included in the treatment sessions to educate them about how to facilitate communication.