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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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How might progressive supranuclear palsy be treated?

There is currently no effective treatment for progressive supranuclear palsy, although scientists are searching for better ways to manage the disease. In some patients the slowness, stiffness, and balance problems may respond to antiparkinsonian agents such as levodopa, or levodopa combined with anticholinergic agents or amantadine, but the effect is usually temporary. The speech, vision, and swallowing difficulties usually do not respond to any drug treatment.[1]

Another group of drugs that has been of some modest success in progressive supranuclear palsy are antidepressant medications. The most commonly used of these drugs are fluoxetine (Prozac), amitriptyline (Elavil), and imipramine (Tofranil). The benefit of these drugs seems not to be related to their ability to relieve depression.[1]

Non-drug treatment for progressive supranuclear palsy can take many forms. Patients frequently use weighted walking aids because of their tendency to fall backward. Bifocals or special glasses called prisms are sometimes prescribed for patients to remedy the difficulty of looking down. Although formal physical therapy has not proven helpful in progressive supranuclear palsy, certain exercises can be done to keep the joints limber.[1]

A surgical procedure that may be necessary when there are swallowing disturbances is a gastrostomy. A gastrostomy (or a jejunostomy) is a minimally invasive procedure which is performed when the patient has difficulty swallowing or when severe choking is a definite risk. This surgery involves the placement of a tube through the skin of the abdomen into the stomach (intestine) for feeding purposes.[1]

Additional information about treatment of progressive supranuclear palsy can be obtained through the following web pages developed by WE MOVE and Cure PSP:
Last updated: 3/12/2012

  1. Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Fact Sheet. National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). August 16, 2011; Accessed 8/18/2011.

Management Guidelines

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Clinical Trials & Research for this Disease

  • lists trials that are studying or have studied Progressive supranuclear palsy. Click on the link to go to to read descriptions of these studies.