What is Progressive Supranuclear Palsy?
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy is a neurological condition that worsens over time. It affects 5 in every 100 000 people with the average onset age between 50 and 60 years. Progressive Supranuclear Palsy affects the part of the brain that controls activities such as walking, eye movements, balance, speech and swallowing. There is no known cure, prevention or cause – however – it is known to be associated with an over-production of the protein ‘tau’ in specific areas of the brain. Build up of clumps of tau is linked to damage to nerve cell causing the symptoms associated with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP).
What are the symptoms?
- Muscle stiffness
- Difficulties with gait (walking) and balance
- Dizziness and Falls
- Slow movements
- Eye problems including vision and gaze problems
- Speech problems
- Swallowing difficulties
How can a Speech Pathologist help?
As the symptoms of PSP worsen through disease progression, treatments and therapies are often targeted at managing the associated symptoms. A speech pathologist performs ongoing assessments of the individual’s speech, language and swallowing skills. As choking and pneumonia are common complications with this population, education regarding the risks of Dysphagia need to be highlighted to the individual, their family and carers. Safe swallowing strategies or diet consistency modifications may be necessary depending on how severe the Dysphagia symptoms are and in some cases other feeding alternatives may be necessary such as a PEG feeding tube.
The communication difficulty most often associated with PSP is dysarthria. The individual’s speech sounds slurred due to motor difficulties associated with producing the sounds of words. Speech therapy is often targeted at improving the accuracy of speech sounds in the earlier stages of PSP. As symptoms progress, a speech pathologist may also begin training of an alternative communication device, such as communication boards and speech generating devices, to assist with communication in later stages when verbal communication is no longer possible due to severe motor impairments.
You can read more about Progressive Supranuclear Palsy here:
For more information on this topic or any speech related fields, contact the ENT Clinic on 1300 123 368 and make an appointment with our speech pathologists Ashleigh Fattah or Jenna Butterworth.