Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia

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What is Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia?

Hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), also called familial spastic paraparesis (FSP), refers to a group of inherited disorders that are characterized by progressive weakness and stiffness of the legs. Though the primary feature of HSP is severe, progressive, lower extremity spasticity, in more complicated forms it can be accompanied by other neurological symptoms. These include optic neuropathy, retinopathy (diseases of the retina), dementia, ataxia (lack of muscle control), icthyosis (a skin disorder resulting in dry, rough, scaly skin), mental retardation, peripheral neuropathy, and deafness. Diagnosis is primarily by neurological examination and testing to exclude other disorders. Specialized genetic testing and diagnosis are available at some medical centers.

Is there any treatment?

There are no specific treatments to prevent, slow, or reverse HSP. Symptomatic treatments used for other forms of chronic paraplegia are sometimes helpful. Regular physical therapy is important for improving muscle strength and preserving range of motion.

What is the prognosis?

The prognosis for individuals with HSP varies. Some cases are seriously disabling while others are less disabling and are compatible with a productive and full life. The majority of individuals with HSP have a normal life expectancy.

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports research on genetic disorders such as HSP. Genes that are responsible for several forms of HSP have already been identified, and many more will likely be identified in the future. Understanding how these genes cause HSP will lead to ways to prevent, treat, and cure HSP .

Spastic Paraplegia%22 Select this link to view a list of studies currently seeking patients.

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