Diagnosing PSP

A physician conducting a physical examination will find slowness in movements, stiffness in the muscles of the neck and limbs, and some gait unsteadiness. Typically, the first diagnosis made is Parkinson's disease.

However a physician familiar with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) may notice:

  • A staring face
  • Reduced blink rate
  • Furrowed forehead
  • Strained, slow voice
  • Slow, dream-like gestures and movements
  • Tendency to drop uncontrolledly into a chair instead of lowering oneself

Other Tests

An MRI of the brain may show some areas with shrunken volume, particularly of the midbrain.

Blood tests and spinal fluid cannot confirm a diagnosis of PSP, but they can rule out other possible causes for the symptoms.

A physician who is familiar with PSP can make a clinical diagnosis based on symptoms, a brain MRI, and absence of a better explanation for the patient’s problems.