Actor Dudley Moore Dies of PSP

By Ellen Kuwana
Neuroscience for Kids Staff Writer
April 8, 2002

Actor and classically trained pianist Dudley Moore died March 27, 2002, of complications from a rare brain disease called progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). He was best known for his starring roles in the 1979 movie 10 and the 1981 film Arthur.

PSP affects one out of every 100,000 people and has symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease. Symptoms of PSP can include problems with balance, vision, movement and speech. Because the symptoms are similar to some other diseases, PSP is often misdiagnosed. The hallmark of the disease is inability to aim the eyes; this happens because of lesions in the area of the brain that controls eye movements. Some patients describe this phenomenon as "blurring." Other symptoms are caused by the deterioration of neurons in the brainstem.

At the present time, there is no cure for PSP. However, some of the movement problems associated with PSP respond to drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease. The difficulties with speech, swallowing and vision do not respond to treatment. Mechanical aids such as walkers or special glasses can lessen some of the movement and visual disturbances.

As the symptoms gradually worsen, PSP patients become vulnerable to secondary infections such as pneumonia or to injuries from falls. People do not die from PSP, but rather from pneumonia or other complications.

Dudley Moore went public with his symptoms after his diagnosis in 1999. Before his death, he raised $100,000 for research on PSP.

More information on PSP:

  • PSP from National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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