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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Progressive supranuclear palsy


Other Names for this Disease

  • Familial progressive supranuclear palsy (type)
  • PSP
  • Steele-Richardson-Olszewski Syndrome
  • Supranuclear palsy, progressive
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Symptoms

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What are the signs and symptoms of progressive supranuclear palsy?

Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) displays a wide range of symptoms. The pattern of signs and symptoms can be quite different among affected people. The most frequent first symptom of is a loss of balance while walking. Affected people may have unexplained falls, or a stiffness and awkwardness in gait. Sometimes the falls are described as attacks of dizziness. This often prompts suspicion of an inner ear problem.[1]

Other common early symptoms are changes in personality (such as a loss of interest regular activities); increased irritability; cantankerousness; and forgetfulness. Affected people may suddenly laugh or cry for no apparent reason; they may also be apathetic, or have occasional angry outbursts.[1] 

As the disease progresses, most people will begin to develop a blurring of vision and problems controlling eye movement. Eye problems usually offer the first definitive clue that PSP is the diagnosis. Those with PSP have trouble shifting their gaze downward, and/or controlling their eyelids. This can lead to involuntary closing of the eyes, prolonged or infrequent blinking, or difficulty in opening the eyes.[1] Another common visual problem is an inability to maintain eye contact during a conversation. This can give the mistaken impression that the affected person is hostile or uninterested.[1]

Weakened movements of the mouth, tongue and throat can lead to slurred speech and difficulty swallowing. The inability of throat muscles to create a watertight seal outside the person's lungs often results in aspiration pneumonia - the most common cause of death in people with PSP.[1]

Last updated: 8/28/2014

References
  1. Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Fact Sheet. National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). August 16, 2011; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/psp/detail_psp.htm. Accessed 8/18/2011.


Other Names for this Disease
  • Familial progressive supranuclear palsy (type)
  • PSP
  • Steele-Richardson-Olszewski Syndrome
  • Supranuclear palsy, progressive
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.