Affected parts of the brain
Cause of supranuclear palsy Open popup dialog
Progressive supranuclear palsy is a rare brain disorder that causes serious problems with walking, balance, and eye movement, as well as with subsequent swallowing. The disorder results from the deterioration of cells in areas of your brain that control movement, coordination, thinking, and other important functions of the body. Progressive supranuclear palsy is also known as Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome.

Progressive supranuclear palsy worsens over time and can lead to life-threatening complications such as pneumonia and difficulty swallowing. There is no cure for progressive supranuclear palsy, so treatment focuses on managing the signs and symptoms.

The characteristic signs and symptoms of progressive supranuclear palsy are:

Loss of balance while walking. A tendency to withdraw can appear very early in the disease.
An inability to properly align your eyes. You may have particular difficulty looking down, or have blurred and double vision. This difficulty in focusing the eyes can cause some people to spill food or not be interested in the conversation due to poor eye contact.

The reasons
The cause of the progressive supranuclear palsy is unknown. The signs and symptoms of the disorder result from the deterioration of cells in areas of your brain, especially those that help you control the body’s movements and thinking.

Researchers have found that brain cells that deteriorate in people with progressive supranuclear palsy contain abnormal amounts of a protein called tau. Lumps of dew are also found in other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Rarely, progressive supranuclear palsy occurs within a family. A genetic link is not clear, however, and most people with progressive supranuclear palsy do not inherit the disease.

Risk factors
The only proven risk factor for progressive supranuclear palsy is age. The disease typically affects people around the age of 60 and is virtually unknown in people under 40.

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