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Who Is At Risk For Progressive Supranuclear Palsy & Is There A Blood Test For It?

Progressive supranuclear palsy is a rare type of brain disorder and it causes individuals to experience permanent problems with control of the gait and physical balance. Especially, the affected person fails to aim his/her eyes properly because of lesions in their brain areas responsible to coordinate eye movements. A few of the PSP patients experience alterations in their mood and behavior.(1)

The progressive supranuclear palsy disorder starts at a slow rate and continues to become worse i.e. progressive and causes palsy or weakness by damaging a few of the specific brain parts above nuclei responsible for controlling eye movements i.e. supranuclear.(2)

Until now, there is no blood test or any other lab test and imaging technique to diagnose the problem of PSP. Moreover, the diagnosis of PSP is difficult because its symptoms are almost similar to any other type of movement disorder and certain characteristics or symptoms of PSP develop during the later phase.(3)

Who Is At Risk For Progressive Supranuclear Palsy?

The age of a person is the single and a proven type of risk factor related to the problem of progressive supranuclear palsy. The condition especially affects people, who reach the age of 60 years. On the other side, the problem remains virtually unknown among people below 40 years age.(4)

Is There A Blood Test For Progressive Supranuclear Palsy?

No, there is no blood test to perform to diagnose the problem of progressive supranuclear palsy. However, depending on the condition of patients, doctors recommend a few of the other tests’ procedures to rule out similar types of diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and stroke or heart attack.

Brain Scanning Procedure: If you have any of the progressive supranuclear palsy symptoms, which indicates anything wrong with the brain, doctors may recommend for brain scanning procedure. Common types of brain scans are-

MRI Scan: Here a combination of radio waves and a strong magnetic field produces detailed images of inner parts of the human brain.

PET Scan: Positron Emission Tomography i.e. PET scan detects the radiation emitted from an injected substance.

DaT Scan: Here, pathologists will give you an injection that contains radioactive materials in small amounts, and later on, the gamma camera is useful for capturing different pictures or images of your brain.

These scans rule out strokes, brain tumors, and other related conditions. MRI scan procedure is also useful for detecting abnormal brain changes, which are consistent with the progressive supranuclear palsy diagnosis, like shrinkage of specific areas. However, scans to identify the formation of tau protein in the human brain are under development procedure.

Rule Out The Parkinson’s Disease: Your doctor may prescribe you levodopa for a few days to identify whether you experience symptoms because of Parkinson’s disease or progressive supranuclear palsy. In the case of Parkinson’s disease, your symptoms may improve to some extent after the regular dosage of levodopa for a few days.

Neurological Testing: Neurological testing consists of a series of diagnostic procedures designed primarily to evaluate the highest possible extent of your progressive supranuclear palsy symptoms and their influence on mental abilities. The tests mainly check various abilities, like understanding a specific language, concentration, memory, and the way to process any visual information, like pictures and words. The reason for this is that many people suffering from PSP experience a distinct pattern based on their mental abilities. These include the following-

  • The span of poor or low attention
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulties to speak certain languages and process any of the visual details(5)


Age is the single risk factor associated with the problem of progressive supranuclear palsy disorder. On the other side, the PSP diagnosis does not involve any blood test or specific lab test. However, doctors recommend for a brain scan and neurological tests to rule out several other similar types of conditions.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 28, 2020

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