A Brief Guide to PSP
PSP is caused by the progressive death of nerve cells in the brain, leading to difficulty with balance, movement, vision, speech and swallowing. It is so called because it's:
Progressive - it gets steadily worse over time
Supranuclear - it damages parts of the brain above the pea-sized 'nuclei' that control eye movements
a Palsy - it causes weakness
PSP is associated with an over-production of a protein called tau in certain areas of the brain. In PSP, it forms into clumps - or neurofibrillary tangles - which are believed to damage nerve cells.
There is nothing to suggest that the disease is inherited but research indicates that some people may have a genetic susceptibility that puts them more at risk of developing the condition than others.
PSP is a rare condition. Research into the prevalence of the disease suggests that there are around 4,000 people in the UK living with the condition at any one time, though neurologists believe the figure could be as high as 10,000.