What is PSP ?

PROGRESSIVE SUPRANUCLEAR PALSY is a brain disease in the category of “neurodegenerative” diseases along with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s diseases. In PSP, cells in some areas of the brain accumulate clumps of a protein called “tau” and gradually die off. Those cells control walking, balance, mobility, vision, speech, swallowing, sleep and behavior. In the U.S., around 17,500 people have been diagnosed with PSP, a number similar to that of better-known Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). PSP’s average age of onset is 63, but rare cases have started in the early 40s. It is slightly more common in men than women, but PSP has no known geographical, occupational or racial preference. PSP is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease because of the general slowing of movement. It can also be mistaken for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease because of changes in mood, intellect, memory and personality. Survival after the initial symptoms averages 7.4 years, with the milder “PSP-parkinsonism” variety progressing more slowly than the more severe “Richardson’s syndrome” variety. Currently there is no treatment or cure for PSP although research is very active.

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