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Progressive supranuclear palsy
Alternative namesDementia-nuchal dystonia; Richardson-Steele-Olszewski syndrome; Palsy - progressive supranuclear
DefinitionProgressive supranuclear palsy is a disorder caused by damage to certain nerve cells in the brain, characterized by progressive lack of coordination , stiffness of the neck and trunk, difficulties with eye movement, slow movements, cognitive dysfunction, and difficulty walking that can result in falls.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Progressive supranuclear palsy is a disorder characterized by symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease (including unsteady gait , stiff movements, and mild dementia ). Other similar disorders include dysfunction of the cerebellum, multiple system atrophy, and senile dementia ( Alzheimer's type ).
People with this condition have deposits in brain tissues that resemble the deposits found in Alzheimer's disease . There is atrophy (loss of tissue) in most areas of the brain. The disorder is most often seen in people over 60 years old, and is somewhat more common in men.
Signs and tests
A neurological examination may show Parkinsonian movements with typical stiffness and lack of coordination . Dementia is mild. Eye movements are limited, particularly vertical movements. However, vision, hearing, sensation, and voluntary control of movement remain intact.
Tests may be done to rule out other diseases. An MRI might show shrinking of the brainstem.
Treatment is aimed at controlling symptoms. There is no known cure for progressive supranuclear palsy. Levodopa and anticholinergic medications may provide temporary reduction of symptoms.
These are not as effective as in Parkinson's disease , however. Around-the-clock care and monitoring are eventually required because of progressive loss of brain functions.
Expectations (prognosis)Treatment sometimes provides temporary reduction of symptoms, but the disorder inevitably progresses. There is a steady decline of brain function, with death commonly occurring in 5 to 7 years.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if frequent falls accompanied by stiff neck /body and vision difficulties occur.
Also, call if progressive supranuclear palsy has been diagnosed and the condition declines to a point when it is not possible to care for the person in the home.
Update Date: 7/28/2002Elaine T. Kiriakopoulos, M.D., MSc, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT