Also called: PSP, Richardson-Steele-Olszewski syndrome, Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome
Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a rare brain disease. It affects brain cells that control the movement of your eyes. This leads to serious and permanent problems with balance and the way you walk. It usually occurs in middle-aged or elderly people. Symptoms are very different in each person, but may include personality changes, speech, vision and swallowing problems. Doctors sometimes confuse PSP with Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease.
PSP has no cure and no effective treatments. Walking aids, special glasses and certain medicines might help somewhat. Although the disease gets worse over time, it isn’t fatal on its own. However, PSP is dangerous because it increases your risk of pneumonia and choking from swallowing problems and injuries from falling.
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Progressive supranuclear palsy is a brain disorder that affects movement, vision, speech, and thinking ability (cognition). The signs and symptoms of this disorder usually become apparent in mid- to late adulthood, most often in a person’s 60s. Most people with progressive supranuclear palsy survive 5 to 9 years after the disease first appears, although a few affected individuals have lived for more than a decade.Loss of balance and frequent falls are the most common early signs of progressive supranuclear palsy. Affected individuals have problems with walking, including poor coordination and an unsteady, lurching gait. Other movement abnormalities develop as the disease progresses, including unusually slow movements (bradykinesia), clumsiness, and stiffness of the trunk muscles. These problems worsen with time, and most affected people ultimately require wheelchair assistance.Progressive supranuclear palsy is also characterized by abnormal eye movements, which typically develop several years after the other movement problems first appear. Restricted up-and-down eye movement (vertical gaze palsy) is a hallmark of this disease. Other eye movement problems include difficulty opening and closing the eyelids, infrequent blinking, and pulling back (retraction) of the eyelids. These abnormalities can lead to blurred vision, an increased sensitivity to light (photophobia), and a staring gaze.Additional features of progressive supranuclear palsy include slow and slurred speech (dysarthria) and trouble swallowing (dysphagia). Most affected individuals also experience changes in personality and behavior, such as a general loss of interest and enthusiasm (apathy). They develop problems with cognition, including difficulties with attention, planning, and problem solving. As the cognitive and behavioral problems worsen, affected individuals increasingly require help with personal care and other activities of daily living.