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Parkinson’s Disease Is Often Misdiagnosed as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy in People with Paraquat Exposure

Posted on 10th March, 2021

by Legal Staff

Also known as Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome, PSP is a rare neurological disorder that causes severe problems with walking, balance, and eye movements, as well as with swallowing over time.

It stems from the deterioration of the areas of the brain that control body movement, coordination, thinking, and other essential functions.

People with a history of paraquat exposure should seek a second and even a third opinion.

If you have someone in your family who worked with this herbicide, we strongly advise you to encourage them to visit multiple specialists, as the right diagnosis will not only help them receive the treatment they need, but it may also qualify them for compensation from the liable manufacturers.

What Are the Symptoms of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy?

Regrettably, there is no cure for progressive supranuclear palsy and, as the name suggests, the condition tends to worsen over time, being able to lead to serious health complications such as pneumonia and swallowing difficulties. There are 2 key symptoms of this brain disorder, namely:

  • loss of balance when walking: the patient may experience a tendency to fall backward in the early stages of the condition
  • inability to aim the eyes properly: the patient may have trouble looking downward or experience blurred and double vision, which may cause them to spill food or appear disinterested in conversation due to poor eye contact

Furthermore, people with progressive supranuclear palsy may experience the following symptoms, many of which are very similar to those of Parkinson's disease:

  • stiffness and awkward movements
  • frequent falling
  • difficulty with speech and swallowing
  • light sensitivity
  • sleep disturbances
  • loss of interest in enjoyable activities
  • impulsive behavior, including laughing or crying for no apparent reason
  • problems with memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making
  • depression and anxiety
  • a surprised or frightened facial expression, which is the result of rigid facial muscles

It is worthy of note that, while progressive supranuclear palsy is not Parkinson's disease, it is a parkinsonian-like syndrome, which only makes assigning a correct and precise diagnosis more challenging for medical professionals. Both conditions tend to affect people over the age of 60.

What Is the Difference Between Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and Parkinson's Disease?

The key aspect that differentiates progressive supranuclear palsy from Parkinson's disease lies in the rapidity of the development of the symptoms. While people who struggle with the latter experience a slower onset of symptoms, individuals who have the former will experience symptoms within a considerably shorter period of time.

Although both conditions are progressive, supranuclear palsy will develop at a significantly faster pace than Parkinson's disease.

This is the essential aspect for which medical specialists need to look for when assigning a diagnosis.

Progressive supranuclear palsy is a neurodegenerative disease that is caused by the accumulation of tau proteins in the brain. This accumulation of tau proteins will eventually result in damage to the nerve cells and subsequently cause difficulties with cognition, eye movement, and posture.

In the early stage, both patients with progressive supranuclear palsy and Parkinson's disease experience shuffling gait. Nevertheless, the forward flexed posture that is characteristic of Parkinson's disease is rarely present in people with progressive supranuclear palsy. In general, individuals with this disorder experience unsteadiness and a tendency to fall backward.

Another distinguishing feature of progressive supranuclear palsy is a visual disturbance. As a result, people with this condition have trouble looking up or down.

In contrast, individuals with Parkinson's disease have other visual symptoms, such as poor visual acuity, impaired color vision, visual field defects, problems with saccadic eye movement, and nystagmus, which is a condition in which the eyes are making repetitive and uncontrolled movements.

Furthermore, a taut spastic face is another key characteristic of progressive supranuclear palsy, whereas loose "masked facies", a reduced degree of facial expression, is usually associated with Parkinson's disease.

Lastly, difficulty with swallowing and speech is a common symptom that affects both people with progressive supranuclear palsy and Parkinson's disease. However, it occurs much earlier and is significantly more severe in individuals with progressive supranuclear palsy than in those with Parkinson's disease. Moreover, olfactory dysfunction is frequently associated with Parkinson's disease, but the sense of smell often remains intact in people who suffer from progressive supranuclear palsy.

Quality Assistance for People Injured by Paraquat Exposure

With over 35 years of experience in evaluating personal injury and product liability claims, the team of experts at Atraxia Law is ready to provide you with quality assistance if you were exposed to paraquat and developed Parkinson's disease as a consequence.

Even though the process is complex, your involvement will be minimal and a family member can help you navigate it with more ease, as we are aware that most of our clients are in great physical and emotional suffering.

Following a thorough assessment, you will know with certainty whether you qualify for filing a claim with the liable paraquat manufacturers. For additional information, please feel free to contact our company and we will gladly answer your questions.