Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) is a neurological condition caused by the premature loss of nerve cells in certain parts of the brain.


A protein called tau builds up in certain areas of the brain and forms into clumps (neurofibrillary tangles), which are believed to damage the nerve cells.

Over a period of time this can lead to difficulties with balance, movement, vision, speech and swallowing.

There are believed to be around 4,000 people living with PSP in the UK at any one time.

There are no simple tests or brain scans for PSP. In its early stages, symptoms can resemble those of other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Stroke or Multiple System Atrophy and misdiagnosis is common.


The condition gets its name because:

  • Progressive – it steadily worsens over time
  • Supranuclear – it damages the nuclei that control eye movements
  • Palsy – it causes weakness.

Each case of PSP is unique and symptoms  can be experienced with varying degrees of severity and at different stages of progression. To find out more Signs and Symptoms section.

Like many other chronic conditions there is no cure for PSP. However many of the symptoms can be managed to help people achieve the best possible quality of life.

PSP tends not to run in families and the disease is not believed to be inherited. However research indicates that some people may have a genetic disposition which makes them more susceptible.


PSPA are the only charity supporting people with this condition in the UK . If you want to understand more about PSP please contact our  Helpline and Information Service