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 An Interview with Patricia Richardson (Page 1 of 3)

An Interview with Patricia Richardson

Patricia Richardson

Gary Barg: I appreciate you talking about your dad. I think when we talk about our families, and especially people in the public eye like yourself, it really makes a difference and brings people out who may be going through this. It is really a great service that you do. Could you tell us what PSP is?

Patricia Richardson: Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a neurodegenerative brain disease that has no known cause, treatment or cure. It affects nerve cells that control walking, balance, mobility, vision, speech and swallowing. We used to say movement disorder, but we have decided now to refer to it as a disease. Thatís what it is and when you say a movement disorder, it does not sound as serious and deadly as it in fact is. It is a fatal disease. It is a fatal brain disease.

We did not even know my father had it, probably for the first five years. Towards the last probably full year he had it, and maybe even longer, I used to say to people that it was like he was mummified inside his body. He had the kind of PSP where the muscle cramps basically froze him. He was unable to move his face, eyes. Of course, he could not speak for more than the last year, probably the last two years, and he had a lot of difficulty swallowing.

We had never known how cognitive he had actually been because he could not communicate. Then when we did the autopsy, we found out that he had been a lot more cognizant than we realized. That was so upsetting to us, because there were times when we talked in front of him and did not think he necessarily really even understood what we were saying. Now we realize he did, and that he understood a lot more about what was going on around him than we realized at the time.

GB: That is a good lesson for everybody with a loved one dealing with cognitive disorders or movement disorders. We should try to be aware of what the person may or may not be processing. What kinds of treatments are being developed for PSP? What was being done for your dad?

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