Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Progressive supranuclear palsy is a type of dementia due to frontotemporal degeneration. It is sometimes referred to as “atypical parkinsonism”. It is a progressive disease that shortens lifespan.

Progressive supranuclear palsy affects motor function early-on, not just cognitive function like in Alzheimer’s disease. A person may initially develop changes with their walking, with it becoming more stiff, and they may experience imbalance and falls. Their body may become abnormally rigid, especially in the neck and trunk (axial muscles). Cognitively, there can be a decline in executive function, or a change in speech patterns. Psychiatrically, a person may develop a decline in motivation and goal-directed behavior (apathy), depressed mood, new impulsivity, or other behavioral changes. A characteristic aspect of the disease is difficulty moving the eyes down and/or up, which can manifest as complaints in vision or trouble with climbing stairs.

There is no cure for progressive supranuclear palsy. A comprehensive evaluation can clarify if a person’s motor, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms are caused by one unifying diagnosis like progressive supranuclear palsy. Accurate diagnosis can lead to proper anticipatory guidance, which is important in progressive supranuclear palsy because the motor decline can cause safety concerns even at an early stage of disease.

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