What are the symptoms and stages for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My dad has Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, which is a type of Parkinson's disease. What symptoms are normal for this disease and how bad will he get? I have had a hard time getting information on this disease. Are there stages like in other diseases?

Expert Answer

Graham A. Glass, MD, is the co-founder of PEAK Neurology and Sleep Medicine, LLC with multiple locations across Alaska. Previously, he was deputy director of the San Francisco Parkinson's Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Care Center PADRECC and assistant clinical professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Glass received his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at the San Antonio School of Medicine and completed his neurology residency at Tufts-New England Medical Center. He subsequently completed a fellowship in movement disorders at the Mayo Clinic.

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy(PSP), rather than being a type of Parkinson's disease, is an atypical parkinsonian syndrome that shares many features with Parkinson's disease. Patients with PSP, like your father, may have a number different symptoms but the symptoms that usually prompt this diagnosis include balance problems, stiffness and slowness of movement, and problems with eye movements such that double vision is common. Often other symptoms such as difficulty with speech and swallowing are present as well. There are several sources for further information including CurePSP and WeMove. Unfortunately, PSP is typically thought to progress more rapidly than Parkinson's disease and medications that are typically used in Parkinson's disease are only somewhat helpful. Although researchers use rating scales for PSP, we typically don't "stage" it like we do in Parkinson's disease.