Progressive Supranuclear Palsy: How common is it?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 28, 2011

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Quick Bites

  • Progressive supranuclear palsy is a movement disorder.
  • Symptoms of this disorder are similar to those of many neurological and psychiatric disorders.
  • The exact cause of this disorder is not known yet.
  • It usually occurs in people who are aged 60 years or older.


Progressive supranuclear palsy is a movement disorder which occurs due to the damage to certain nerve cells in the brain. The exact cause of the disorder is not known yet but it is believed to be genetic or might be caused by a virus or exposure to toxins.

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

The signs and symptoms of this disorder are similar to those of many neurological and psychiatric disorders but is it is difficult to diagnose. There is no cure for this condition and treatment is done to help ease the symptoms. Doctors may use medications or techniques such as physical therapy to treat PSP. There is no complete recovery from PSP, and the condition is eventually fatal.

Causes of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

the exact cause of this disorder is not known yet though several theories have been suggested. In some cases it has been passed down through families which suggest the cause to be genetic. But it may also occur due to a gene abnormality or mutation. Gene mutations are changes in the DNA of the body. It might also be caused by exposure to toxins, such as pesticides and may also come from a virus.

Signs and Symptoms

Some common clinical symptoms of PSP include:
Slow, unsteady walk
Loss of balance, making it easy to fall
Difficulty looking upwards (supranuclear vertical gaze)
Falls during the first year
Difficulty swallowing
Slurred speech

movement disorder

How common is it

It usually occurs in people who are aged 60 years or older.  Symptoms typically become noticeable in the early 60s, although the disease sometimes affects people in their 40s or 50s. It is slightly more common in men than in women. It is often mistaken with Parkinson disease as it similar symptoms. The distinction is important, because treatments that help many people with Parkinson disease do not help those with PSP. Unfortunately, we do not yet have an effective treatment for PSP. Approximately 20,000 Americans - or one in every 100,000 people over the age of 60 - have Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, makes it much less common than Parkinson's disease, which affects more than 500,000 Americans.


Image Courtesy : Getty


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