Progressive supranuclear palsy

Published: October, 2006

"Why do we have an aunt who is so scared of falling backwards?" — writer Julio Cortázar

In his short story "Uncle in Trouble," the Argentinean writer Julio Cortázar describes how a family accommodates an aunt who sits and lies stiffly, moves only after great hesitation, takes several minutes to cross a room, and has difficulty aiming her eyes. Although Cortázar's writing often borders on the surreal, a neurologist suggested that this story actually provides a realistic description of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a relatively uncommon, fatal brain disease that is often initially diagnosed as Parkinson's disease. The first symptoms strike in midlife, between ages 50 and 70.

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