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Alternative Names Return to topDementia-nuchal dystonia; Richardson-Steele-Olszewski syndrome; Palsy - progressive supranuclear
Definition Return to top
Progressive supranuclear palsy is a movement disorder caused by damage to certain nerve cells in the brain.
Causes Return to top
Progressive supranuclear palsy is a condition that causes symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease.
It involves damage to many cells of the brain. The covering of certain nerve cells (myelin sheath) is destroyed. Entire nerves may be damaged in some areas. The cause of the damage to the brain cells is unknown. The disease gets worse over time (degenerative).
People with this condition have deposits in brain tissues that look like those found in patients with Alzheimer's disease. There is a 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.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
An exam of the nervous system (neurological examination) may show:
The health care provider may do tests to rule out other diseases. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) might show shrinking of the brainstem.
Treatment Return to top
The goal of treatment is to control symptoms. There is no known cure for progressive supranuclear palsy.
Levodopa and drugs that block the action of a nervous system chemical called acetylcholine (anticholinergic medications) may temporarily reduce symptoms. These medications are not as effective as they are for Parkinson's disease, however.
Many people with this condition will need around-the-clock care and monitoring as they lose brain functions.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Treatment sometimes can reduce symptoms temporarily, but the condition will get worse. Brain function will decline over time. Death commonly occurs in 5 to 7 years.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you often fall, and if you have a stiff neck/body and vision problems.
Also, call if a loved one has been diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy and the condition has declined so much that you can no longer care for the person at home.
References Return to top
Goetz CG. Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders; 2007.Update Date: 2/6/2008 Updated by: Daniel Kantor, MD, Director of the Comprehensive MS Center, Neuroscience Institute, University of Florida Health Science Center, Jacksonville, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.