Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (cont.)
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When to Seek Medical Care Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
Any change in movement, walking, balance, behavior, mood, or personality may signal a problem. A visit to the person’s health care provider is a good idea if the change interferes with any of the following:
Many conditions can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms, including both medical and psychological problems. Some of these conditions can be reversed, or at least stopped or slowed. Therefore, it is extremely important that the person with symptoms be checked thoroughly to determine if he or she has a treatable condition.
Early diagnosis allows the affected person to plan activities and to make arrangements for care while he or she can still take part in making the decisions.
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Exams and Tests
Many different conditions can cause dementia symptoms. No test can confirm that you have PSP. Your health care provider has the difficult task of finding the cause of your symptoms. This is very important, because some causes of dementia are reversible with treatment, while others are not.
The process of narrowing down the possibilities to reach your diagnosis is complicated. Your health care provider will gather information from several different sources. At any time in the process, he or she may consult an expert in brain disorders (neurologist or psychiatrist).
The first step in the evaluation is the medical interview. You will be asked questions about your symptoms and when they appeared, about medical problems now and in the past, about medications you have taken now and in the past, about family medical problems, about your work and travel history, and about your habits and lifestyle. You may need a family member to help you answer these questions. A physical examination will look for physical disabilities and signs of underlying conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease. It will include a mental status examination. This involves answering questions and following simple directions. Neuropsychological testing may be done to identify the extent of dementia.
No lab test can confirm the diagnosis of PSP. Blood tests may be done to rule out other conditions that cause dementia symptoms. These include infections, blood disorders, chemical abnormalities, hormonal disorders, and liver or kidney problems.
Brain scans are not very helpful in establishing the diagnosis of PSP, but they can rule out many other conditions that cause dementia.
Neuropsychological testing is the most accurate method of pinpointing and documenting a person’s cognitive problems and strengths. Results vary with the site and severity of damage in the brain.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/8/2015
Eric R Eggenberger, DO
Robert A Hauser, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Stephen Berman, MD, PhD
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