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Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)

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Houston Methodist’s PSP specialists provide the most effective treatment plans for this rare condition. As national movement disorder leaders, we offer therapies that are not widely available at other medical centers.

The integrated neurology team at Houston Methodist offers unmatched specialization in the diagnosis and treatment of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). We provide leading-edge therapies to manage this rare, progressive brain disorder.

Also called Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome, PSP can cause difficulties with balance, walking, cognitive function and controlling complex eye movements. Our multidisciplinary neurology team of experts specializes in diagnosing early symptoms and also treating its advanced stages, giving our patients the best opportunities to improve their quality of life.

Diagnosing & Treating PSP

How is PSP diagnosed?

PSP symptoms are similar to those of Parkinson’s disease. To accurately determine your diagnosis, we will discuss your medical history, including your symptoms. Early symptoms may manifest as unexplained falls, a stiff or awkward gait and personality changes such as sudden bursts of laughing or crying. As the condition progresses, patients may experience tremors, as well as problems with the eyes, such as:

 

  • Difficulty opening or controlling the eyelids 
  • Inability to maintain eye contact 
  • Involuntary closing of the eyes
  • Prolonged or infrequent blinking
  • Trouble shifting your gaze downward

 

Over time, PSP can lead to life-threatening complications such as pneumonia due to difficulty with swallowing. Houston Methodist neurologists will conduct physical and neurological exams, including MRI and PET scans, to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. Your results will help determine whether you have PSP and what therapies might benefit you most.

What treatment options are available?

Our team will help to alleviate the symptoms of PSP with several treatment options:

 

  • Eyeglasses with bifocal or prism lenses may reduce problems with downward eye movement control.
  • Injections of botulinum toxin (Botox®) into the muscles around the eyes can reduce eyelid spasms.
  • Parkinson's disease medications, which increase levels of dopamine in the brain, may help with muscle control. The effectiveness of these medications typically lasts two to three years.
  • Physical therapy can help strengthen your muscles and improve balance. As part of physical therapy, we may introduce a walking aid to help you get around more effectively.  
  • Speech and swallowing therapy can help you learn safer swallowing techniques to avoid choking or aspirating food — patients with severe swallowing challenges may benefit from using a feeding tube. 
  • Using a walking aid, such as a cane, can help improve balance and reduce falls. 
  • Speech and swallowing therapy can help you learn safer swallowing techniques to avoid choking or aspirating food — patients with severe swallowing challenges may benefit from using a feeding tube. 

I need advanced care or a second opinion.

Houston Methodist is your partner in making treatment decisions. Our recommendations are based on years of compassionate expertise in movement disorder management. We educate patients and families on comprehensive treatment options for PSP, including clinical trial therapies that are not yet widely available at other centers.  

PSP symptoms and treatment needs change over time. Our neurologists are part of a multidisciplinary team that tailors care plans to every patient’s unique condition.

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