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Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center (CNADC)
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Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) Clinical Program

Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a form of dementia that can occur in individuals under the age of 65, sometimes as early as in the 40's. "Aphasia" is a deficit in the capacity to use language for communication and it is evident in speaking, understanding what others are saying, naming common objects, reading and writing. PPA begins very gradually and is initially experienced as difficulty thinking of common words while speaking or writing. However, there are individual differences and the first symptoms can involve any aspect of language functioning.

The NADC PPA Program is a 2 day, comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of Primary Progressive Aphasia. Over the course of the examination, we may determine that PPA is not the correct diagnosis and will make appropriate recommendations in that event. The PPA Program consists of four main components:

  • Clinical - State-of-the-art medical evaluation to establish the diagnosis
  • Research - Voluntary participation in ongoing research studies of PPA
  • Education - Address individual needs for information/resources
  • Treatment - Clinical evaluation of the language deficits and a treatment plan
  • This program is open to individuals seeking a first-time diagnosis or to those with an established diagnosis of PPA seeking a second opinion or ongoing care.

If you decide to enroll in the program, you will receive a packet which will include a schedule, a map of the nearby area, and some forms to complete and bring to your appointment.

For more information about the PPA Program, please contact:

Christina Wieneke
Northwestern Alzheimer's Disease Center
320 East Superior
Searle 11-459
Chicago, IL 60611
P: 312-908-9681
F: 312-908-8789

If you would like to schedule an appointment, or talk with someone about billing or related questions, please contact:

Ms. Megan Atchu
Neurobehavior and Memory Clinic
676 N. St. Clair, Arkes Pavilion, Room 945
Chicago, IL 60611
P: 312-695-7902
F: 312-695-6072

Lodging information

Northwestern Memorial Hospital has staff available to assist you in finding appropriate lodging. Many of these hotels are available to Northwestern patients at a discount. For assistance or more information, please call: (312) 926-7666.

Clinical Evaluation

Neurological Evaluation

Conducted by a behavioral neurologist (M.D.) who specializes in diagnosis and treatment of cognitive and behavioral disorders due to brain disease. Requires 1 - 2 hours of testing for sensory and motor functions and a brief review of mental functions.

Neuropsychological Evaluation

Conducted by a clinical neuropsychologist (Ph.D.) who specializes in the objective evaluation and behavioral management of brain disorders. Requires from 2 - 6 hours of tests of language, visual perception, memory, reasoning, and attention. In patients with dementia, this examination may often offer the only evidence of declining abilities due to degenerative brain disease.

Speech Evaluation and Treatment

Conducted by a licensed speech pathologist. The examination, which lasts 2-3 hours, covers all aspects of speech and language. Based on the results, the speech pathologist will work one-on-one with the patient and family to develop tools for improving communication and compensating for difficulties. Referrals to local therapists are made when necessary.

Social Work Evaluation

Conducted by a licensed clinical social worker with experience in working with individuals facing the emotional and practical challenges of PPA. Many non-medical issues related to PPA (e.g., reactions of family and friends, coping strategies for caregivers) are addressed. Assessment of the current living situation and recommendations regarding services that may be helpful will be provided.


At the end of the evaluation, you and your family will meet with a member of the clinical team to review the results of the evaluation and recommendations. This session is an opportunity for you to bring up any questions or concerns. You will receive our PPA Family Handbook which contains information and educational materials. The results of the evaluation are contained in reports from the individual providers that can be sent to your health care providers and/or yourself, as requested.

Research Opportunities

Based on your diagnosis during the evaluation (PPA or other), you may be invited to participate in several research studies. Participation is voluntary and will be scheduled to fit within the time of your stay.

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