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  • Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

    Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a neurological disorder that causes problems with balance, walking, vision, speech, swallowing, personality, and cognition. Symptoms are caused by the deterioration of cells in the areas of the brain that control body movements and thinking.

    Additional Information

    How common is progressive supranuclear palsy?

    Progressive supranuclear palsy is a rare disorder. It affects about 20,000 Americans.

    Who gets progressive supranuclear palsy?

    Symptoms of progressive supranuclear palsy usually appear around age 60. PSP is virtually unknown in people under age 40. It is more common in men than in women.

    How is progressive supranuclear palsy diagnosed?

    Progressive supranuclear palsy can be difficult to diagnose because it shares symptoms with more common movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, and because some of the most characteristic symptoms may develop late or not at all.

    Your doctor may use the following tests to diagnose PSP:

    • Physical and neurological examinations
    • MRI
    • PET

    Symptoms of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

    Characteristic symptoms of progressive supranuclear palsy include loss of balance while walking and the inability to aim your eyes properly, particularly when trying to look downward.

    Other signs and symptoms vary and may mimic those of Parkinson’s disease and dementia. They worsen as the disease advances. These symptoms may include:

    • Stiffness and awkwardness in gait
    • Falling
    • Blurred vision
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Difficulty controlling your eyelid movements
    • Slurred speech
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Dizziness
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Depression, anxiety, or apathy
    • Impulsive behavior, such as laughing and crying for no reason
    • Difficulties with memory, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making
    • Surprised or frightened facial expressions due to rigid facial muscles

    PSP shares symptoms with other disorders. Contact a medical professional if you are having symptoms.

    Treatments for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

    There is no cure for progressive supranuclear palsy, but the following treatments may help manage individual symptoms:

    • Botulinum toxin injections to control eyelid spasms
    • Parkinson’s medications to control muscle movements
    • Glasses with bifocal or prism lenses to ease problems with looking downward
    • Walking aids
    • Physical therapy
    • Occupational therapy

    Additional Information about Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

    NIH Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Information Page


    Request an Appointment with a Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Specialist

    Call (602) 406-6262

    About Barrow Neurological Institute
    Since our doors opened as a regional specialty center in 1962, we have grown into one of the premier destinations in the world for neurology and neurosurgery. Our experienced, highly skilled, and comprehensive team of neurological specialists can provide you with a complete spectrum of care–from diagnosis through outpatient neurorehabilitation–under one roof. Barrow Neurological Institute: Discover. Educate. Heal.