1. What is Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)?

Progressive supranuclear palsy is a type of neurodegenerative disorder.  It comes under the umbrella of Parkinsonism.  It’s a rare neurodegenerative disorder, but most common after Parkinson’s disease.  Often it is mistaken for Parkinson’s disease.  PSP belongs to group of disorders called “Taupathy”. Progressive supranuclear palsy is a syndromic diagnosis which means that people having certain set of symptoms are classified under this category.  However, with advent of pathological findings, a broader spectrum is including under this category.  Based upon the clinical features, PSP can be classified into various subtypes, which includes only cognitive presentations to well known classical presentation of balance and gait.

  1. Is Progressive supranuclear palsy same as Parkinson’s Disease?

NO, PSP is not same as Parkinson’s disease.  Albeit some of the clinical features are same between both of them, they differ significantly in relation to the course of progression, symptoms and response to therapies.

  1. How common is Progressive supranuclear palsy and who are more prone to develop this?

PSP affects about 5-7/100,000 people.  Its slightly common among men.  The usual age of onset is around 60-65 years, but can occur as early as 40 years too.

  1. Can Progressive supranuclear palsy be passed on from one generation to another generation?

It is a sporadic disease (which means its not hereditary).  We don’t know much about how it affects only in certain set of people or what genetic factors play a role here.  However, a very small percentage of people do have family histories.

  1. What are the symptoms of Progressive supranuclear palsy?

The symptoms of  include

  1. Early onset gait and balance problems
  2. Clumpsy gait or shuffling gait
  3. Lack of co-ordination
  4. Slow or absent balance reactions
  5. Frequent falls
  6. Stiffness
  7. Limitations of vertical eye movements (UP and Down movements)
  8. Speech and swallowing issues
  9. Difficulty in eye opening
  10. Memory and mood related issues


  1. How is Progressive supranuclear palsy diagnosed?

Currently there is no specific single test to diagnose PSP.  It’s basically a clinical diagnosis, based upon type of symptoms and clinical signs on examination.   However some tests can add up to help the clinical diagnosis and include MRI brain.

  1. What are treatment options for Progressive supranuclear palsy?

PSP treatment is mostly symptomatic.  This means we treat the symptoms not the underlying cause.  Some of the symptoms like stiffness and slowness can respond well to treatment similar to Parkinson’s disease.   However most of the symptoms may not respond well.

  1. What is the life expectancy with Progressive Supranuclear palsy?

The usual life expectancy  is around 7 years.  But based upon clinical features and progression rates, it may be less or more.

  1. Is there a cure for Progressive supranuclear palsy?

Currently there is no cure.  There are various studies going on and newer therapies being tried to see, if the clinical course can be modified with these treatments.

  1. Are there any resources to understand more about PSP?

There are various web based resources, which can be accessed to understand about PSP and research going on in this field.  Some of them include PSPCure organization