Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Treatment?
Since 1969, our hospital has been providing healthcare to the community of Los Angeles, and we are constantly pursuing excellence in our services. If you struggle with progressive supranuclear palsy, you will receive the most effective treatment for your condition in a warm and compassionate environment, as we place great emphasis on the comfort and well-being of our patients. Our team of medical professionals will carefully assess your health to find the best treatment approach for your progressive supranuclear palsy that will improve your quality of life.
As a brain disorder, progressive supranuclear palsy is diagnosed in 20,000 people in the United States every year. The symptoms of progressive supranuclear palsy are very similar to those of Parkinson’s disease, which is why numerous people with this condition are initially misdiagnosed. For this reason, if you suspect one of your family members has this condition, you should encourage them to seek a second opinion from another medical specialist.
The term “progressive” refers to the fact that the symptoms of this condition tend to worsen over the years. Progressive supranuclear palsy is a considerably rarer condition than Parkinson’s disease, which is another reason for misdiagnosis. It severely affects the ability of the sufferer to walk by impairing their balance, and it also affects their muscles that control eye movement, which makes it difficult to focus and see things clearly.
In contrast with Parkinson’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy is characterized by more severe swallowing difficulties and speech problems. Difficulty moving the eyes, particularly looking downward, is also a prevalent symptom of progressive supranuclear palsy. Furthermore, unlike people with Parkinson’s disease, individuals with this condition are prone to falling backward.
Women are more likely to develop progressive supranuclear palsy than men. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition, but the symptoms can be kept under control with the proper treatment approach and regular medical supervision.
The treatment of progressive supranuclear palsy is symptomatic and supportive, as there is no cure for this condition. In some cases, medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease, such as levodopa, help control slowness, but the effect is generally limited and temporary. Similarly, antidepressants such as amitriptyline, fluoxetine, and imipramine may be beneficial for people with progressive supranuclear palsy, but they should be taken under the close supervision of a neurologist.
People with progressive supranuclear palsy can also benefit from wearing special glasses with bifocal or prism lenses to improve their vision. Furthermore, a weighted tool can help them walk more easily and prevent them from falling backward. Another essential therapeutic approach is physical therapy, which can significantly improve the flexibility of individuals with progressive supranuclear palsy and thereby alleviate muscle stiffness.
Finally, if your symptoms are very severe and you can no longer swallow as a consequence, you may need a feeding tube, which will be inserted through a small opening in your skin of the abdomen in the stomach and will provide you with nourishment. This procedure is medically known as a percutaneous gastrostomy.
Symptoms of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
The symptoms of progressive supranuclear palsy tend to worsen over time, hence the name of this condition. The most frequent symptoms of progressive supranuclear palsy are:
Diagnosis of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
Currently, there is no particular test to diagnose progressive supranuclear palsy. When diagnosing this condition, your doctor will assess your symptoms and their severity and try to rule out other similar conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.
Progressive supranuclear palsy is very challenging to diagnose even for the most experienced medical professionals, as the symptoms of this condition overlap those of other similar brain disorders and because the condition is quite rare. As a consequence, misdiagnosis is very common among people with progressive supranuclear palsy, and the following symptoms may appear vague and unconnected at first glance:
- symptoms of disequilibrium, such as unsteady walking or abrupt and unexplained falls without loss of consciousness
- visual complaints, including blurred vision, difficulties in looking up or down, double vision, light sensitivity, burning eyes, or other eye trouble
- slurred speech
- various mental complaints such as slowness of thought, impaired memory, personality changes, and shifts in mood
A valuable tool in assessing the brain activity of a person who may have progressive supranuclear palsy is MRI. This imaging test will show shrinkage at the top of the brain stem, a telltale sign of progressive supranuclear palsy. Moreover, MRI will also allow the medical professional to examine the brain activity in known areas of degeneration. Eventually, the doctor will assign you the diagnosis of progressive supranuclear palsy when they ruled out other similar conditions.
However, because progressive supranuclear palsy is so difficult to diagnose, we strongly advise you to seek a second and even a third assessment from different medical specialists to make sure you have the correct diagnosis. The proper diagnosis will grant you access to the treatment you need, which will improve your quality of life.
Progressive supranuclear palsy is caused by severe damage to the brain stem. Nevertheless, why this occurs is still unclear for medical researchers. Additionally, the substantia nigra, the portion of the brain responsible for releasing dopamine throughout the body, is also damaged in progressive supranuclear palsy, which also occurs in people with Parkinson’s disease.
Dopamine is a crucial neurotransmitter, as it plays a critical role in how we experience pleasure and other essential body functions. Because damage to the substantia nigra occurs in both progressive supranuclear palsy and Parkinson’s disease, this is another reason why the former is often mistaken for the latter.
However, the hallmark of progressive supranuclear palsy is the accumulation of tau protein in the nerve cells in the brain, which causes them not to function properly and eventually die. The only known risk factor for progressive supranuclear palsy is age. Accordingly, people over the age of 60 have the highest risk of developing it, and the condition is virtually unknown in people under the age of 40.
Since medical researchers have not yet found the cause of progressive supranuclear palsy, there is no known method to prevent the onset of this condition if you are prone to developing it.