Dr. Paul Donohue on PSP

Quite a few US newspapers carry a health column written by FL-based Dr. Paul Donohue in which he answers letters. One of today’s letters is about PSP. I got this from SouthCoast Today, a MA newspaper (though many papers carry his column). I read about it on a PSP-related Yahoo!Group.

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbc … /ENTERTAIN

Dr. Paul Donohue: Your health
March 09, 2008

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Eight years ago my husband was said to have Alzheimer’s disease. A few years later, the diagnosis was changed to Parkinson’s disease. Now the diagnosis is progressive supranuclear palsy. What is that? His speech is hard to understand, and his walking is bad. How does it end up? — B.C.

DEAR BC: Quite a few illnesses can look like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease, especially in their early stages. These illnesses share with each other an attack on brain centers that produce similar signs. However, each also affects brain centers not stricken by the others, and that gives each of these illnesses distinctive features.

An unsteady walk with frequent falls is a sign common to both progressive supranuclear palsy and Parkinson’s disease, because the brain area that governs walking is affected in both illnesses.

Some distinctive signs of PSP are a soft, monotone, barely understandable speech; forgetfulness; irritability; and decreased blinking, which leads to dry eyes. Swallowing can become a formidable task. One of PSP’s most distinguishing features is the inability to turn the eyes downward and, later in the illness, to turn them upward. Loss of eye movement makes reading impossible and adds to the patients’ instability. Many patients eventually have to use a wheelchair.

The Society for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy is ready to help patients and their families with reams of information and with support. You can reach the society at (800) 457-4777 (in Canada, (866) 457-4777) or on the Web at www.psp.org

Write to Dr. Paul Donohue at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.