Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (cont.)
The medical care of a person with PSP usually involves a team of health professionals. The team provides different aspects of care under the supervision of a leader, usually a neurologist.
- A rehabilitation specialist and an occupational therapist can make recommendations that help keep the person safely mobile and independent for as long as possible. Walking aids such as canes or walkers help many people with PSP.
- An ophthalmologist (eye doctor) can manage eye and vision symptoms and rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms.
- A speech therapist can help the person speak more clearly or develop other means of communicating. These professionals can also offer suggestions for reducing the risk of choking.
- A dietitian can offer suggestions for eating to maintain proper nutrition while reducing the risk of choking.
- A surgeon can place a feeding tube in the stomach in a simple procedure called a gastrostomy. This is necessary for people who cannot swallow enough food to maintain good nutrition.
These professionals can help manage symptoms and complications of PSP, but the underlying disease is not affected. No known treatment can stop PSP. Many different medications have been tried but with little success.
- Medications used to treat Parkinson disease have been tried in PSP. These drugs work by increasing the amount of a brain chemical called dopamine or by reducing the level of another brain chemical called acetylcholine. A few patients with PSP have improved with these medications, but the improvement is short-lived and incomplete. One of these drugs may be given to help determine whether a person has PSP or Parkinson disease.
- Antidepressant medications have also been used. These drugs also work by altering the chemistry of the brain. Two different types are used: the tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs slightly improve symptoms in some people with PSP. Nonetheless, antidepressants are usually helpful to treat depression, which commonly accompanies the disorder.
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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