Parkinson's disease versus Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

By | December 23, 2013

Parkinson's disease (PD) clinical diagnosis is prone to errors, as many motor symptoms can also be present in other parkinsonian conditions such as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). PSP patients are less responsive to treatment and their parkinsonian symptoms worsen more quickly. PSP is one of the toughest diseases to clinically distinguish from idiopathic PD, especially in the early stages of PD when the two diseases are similar.

Diagnosis of PSP is mostly done via a patient's clinical history.

PSP and PD may be computationally distinguished via MRI. See Salvatore, C., et al. "Machine Learning on Brain MRI Data for Differential Diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy." Journal of neuroscience methods (2013).

The "applause sign" is used to help distinguish PD from PSP and from FTD (frontotemporal dimentia). In this test, a neurologist instructs the patient to copy what he/she does, and then he/she claps three times. 31% of PSP patients and all FTD patients will clap 10 or more times. See Dubois, B., et al. "“Applause sign” helps to discriminate PSP from FTD and PD." Neurology 64.12 (2005): 2132-2133.

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