The Stephen N. Jasperson Study Developing Treatments for Swallowing and Communication Deficits in PSP

Principal Investigator: Dr. Michelle S. Troche
Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 

Swallowing and communication disorders related to PSP significantly reduce quality of life for patients and make death related to aspirational pneumonia more likely. This study will attempt to better understand these issues and improve treatment techniques.

Speech-language pathologists (SLP) play a key role in the management of people with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).

SLPs are the primary clinicians for the treatment of swallowing and communication deficits in this population. SLPs are challenged by a paucity in the literature available regarding the specific deficits that people with PSP have related to airway protection and communication deficits. This makes it difficult to determine the best way to treat these problems.

This is a problem because swallowing disorders result in marked health decrements and communication deficits can result in an inability to communicate wants and needs, social isolation and subsequent emotional distress. The overall goal of this research is to reduce death and sickness secondary to aspiration pneumonia and improve quality of life in people with PSP.

The goal of this specific study is to better understand the specific difficulties that people with PSP have when it comes to swallowing, cough and communication. The study also will test whether people with PSP can participate in treatment techniques that have been found to improve swallowing, cough and communication in people with Parkinson’s disease and stroke.

This will be done by testing 30 people with PSP. The participants will undergo reflex cough testing and a swallowing test as well as paper-pencil tests of communication. Participants will also try a variety of treatment techniques and see how easy or hard they are to perform. Gathering this information will help to develop better ways of evaluating and managing swallowing, cough and communication dysfunction in PSP. CurePSP hopes to establish new core guidelines for patient care based on this fast-track project.