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Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Any change in movement, walking, balance, behavior, mood, or personality may signal a problem. A visit to the person’s health care provider is a good idea if the change interferes with any of the following:

  • The ability to take care of himself or herself
  • The ability to maintain health and safety
  • The ability to sustain social relationships
  • The ability to work effectively at his or her job
  • The ability or interest in participating in activities that he or she enjoys
  • The ability to drive or carry out other complex tasks

Many conditions can cause dementia  or dementia-like symptoms, including both medical and psychological problems. Some of these conditions can be reversed, or at least stopped or slowed. Therefore, it is extremely important that the person with symptoms be checked thoroughly to determine if he or she has a treatable condition.

Early diagnosis allows the affected person to plan activities and to make arrangements for care while he or she can still take part in making the decisions.

Self-Care at Home

Individuals with PSP should remain physically, mentally, and socially active as long as they are able.

  • Daily physical exercise helps keep the body strong and flexible and stimulates the mind. A physical therapist can recommend safe exercises. Walking aids can help keep a person mobile while reducing the danger from falls.
  • The individual should engage in as much mental activity as he or she can handle. Puzzles, games, reading, and safe hobbies and crafts are good choices. Ideally, these activities should be interactive. They should be of an appropriate level of difficulty to ensure that the person does not become overly frustrated.
  • Social interaction is stimulating and enjoyable for most people with PSP. Most senior centers or community centers have scheduled activities suitable for people with dementia.

A balanced diet   that includes low-fat protein foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables helps maintain a healthy weight and prevent malnutrition and constipation. An individual with PSP should not smoke, both for health and safety reasons.

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Follow-up

If you have progressive supranuclear palsy, you and your family caregiver will have frequent visits with your health care team. Your team can help you and your family members adjust to the changing needs brought on by the disease. They will also check you for new or worsening symptoms and complications and will alter your treatment as necessary.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent PSP.

Outlook

PSP is a progressive disease that may leave you vulnerable to a number of life-threatening complications.

  • Difficulty swallowing is a choking hazard.
  • Resulting eating problems increase the risk for malnutrition.
  • Walking difficulties and balance problems increase the risk of falling. Head injuries   and other injuries from falls can be serious.
  • Most people become unable to walk later in the disease. They become confined to a bed and chair. This immobility increases the risk of infections such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections.
  • Immobility also increases the risk of breathing problems.

People with PSP usually need a walking aid, such as a cane or walker, within 3-4 years of the first symptoms of the disease. With good care and attention to medical needs, nutritional needs, and safety, a person with PSP can live many years. The typical lifespan from first appearance of symptoms is about 6-10 years. The main causes of death are infections and breathing problems.

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