How Does Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Affect The Body & What Triggers It?

Progressive supranuclear palsy causes serious problems with walking, gait, eye movements, swallowing, and balance.1

PSP normally begins with the difficulties in controlling your facial muscles, progresses steadily, and has increased problems with choking and pneumonia in the advanced phase.2

Most cases of progressive supranuclear palsy are sporadic and the factors causing this condition are unknown.3, 4

Progressive supranuclear palsy is a rare brain disorder that has no known cause nor cure. About 5 to 6 per 100000 people in the United States have been affected by this condition. Symptoms typically begin most commonly in men when they are 60 years or older affecting the brain cells.

The deterioration of brain cells eventually leads to problems with walking thus losing balance and resulting in frequent falls, failure in co-ordination with eye movements, slurred speech, shaky writing, swallowing, and cognitive thinking.

How Does Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Affect The Body?

Progressive supranuclear palsy is a rare condition, and no one was familiar with this condition until the early 60s. The disorder was initially misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s however national neurology research foundation first described this disorder and gave its name.

The brain under the microscope resembles very similar to Parkinson’s, a very common disorder of the 20th century affecting 60 thousand Americans every year. People with progressive supranuclear palsy develop a multitude of complications related to walking, coordination of movements, vision, communication, and memory.1

This is a degenerative disorder, therefore, progresses slowly over years, the severity of the disease varies based on the person’s health condition. Some symptoms of the progressive supranuclear palsy are outlined below

Unsteadiness And Poor Balance- PSP affects your ability to walk by impairing your balance. This results in difficulties in movements that lead to frequent falls.

Cognitive Thinking- People with PSP are affected both mentally and physically. You could see changes in personality and eventually experience a mild to moderate mental problems.

Difficulties In Swallowing – progressive supranuclear palsy affects coordination and movement of mouth, throat, and tongue. This causes problems with speech, swallowing, and drinking. Speech and language therapists would be highly helpful when your complications intensify. When you have severe problems with swallowing or drinking your healthcare provider may suggest a surgical procedure to ease your eating problem.

Vision Problem – It also affects muscle controlling your eyes, making it difficult to see and focus things clearly

Progressive supranuclear palsy normally begins with the difficulties in controlling your facial muscles, progresses steadily, and has increased problems with choking and pneumonia in the advanced phase.2

What Triggers Progressive Supranuclear Palsy?

Most cases of progressive supranuclear palsy are sporadic and the factors causing this condition are unknown. Medical research is in progress to investigate the environmental and genetic influences that have potential possibilities of causing this condition.

Scientist suggests that there is a large accumulation and misfolding of proteins called tau (a highly soluble neuronal protein involved in the stabilization of microtubules). It is a form of tauopathy in which the tau proteins lead to the deterioration of brain cells sometimes resulting in death as well.

There is certain evidence showing the disorder is partly genetic but rare occurrences are found in families who had a history of progressive supranuclear palsy in the past. Some cases of PSP are even related to mutation and genetic variation in MAPT protein which generates the tau proteins.

Several theories are showing the cause of the condition however there is no central hypothesis showing the exact cause of the condition.3,4

References:

  1. “Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Feb. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/progressive-supranuclear-palsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20355659.
  2. Melinosky, Christopher. “Progressive Supranuclear Palsy: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments.” WebMD, WebMD, 14 Nov. 2019, www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/progressive-supranuclear-palsy-psp#1.
  3. “Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Fact Sheet.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/patient-caregiver-education/fact-sheets/progressive-supranuclear-palsy-fact-sheet.
  4. “What Causes Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)?” Latest Medical News, Clinical Trials, Guidelines – Today on Medscape, 9 Nov. 2019, www.medscape.com/answers/1151430-156406/what-causes-progressive-supranuclear-palsy-psp.

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