Kader Khan’s death & rare brain disorder Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)

Film star Kader Khan. Express archive photo

Veteran actor and dialogue writer, Kader Khan passed away on January 1 in Canada after admitted to a hospital following his illness. He was 81.

As his death left everyone in the film industry mourning, it has also put a spotlight on a rare brain disorder—Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP)—the deceased actor suffered from.

PSP is a degenerative disease that causes loss of balance, memory and difficult in walking, etc.

As per doctors, the actor was put on ventilator after he complained of breathlessness due to pneumonia. His health deteriorated due to the rare disorder that left him paralysed for many years.

About PSP

According to Dr K K Aggarwal—a leading physician, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy is a degenerative brain disorder prevalent in 3 to 7 persons per 0.1 million population and the mean age for the onset of this condition is approximately 65 years.

“No cases of PSP have been reported in patients younger than age 40 years,” Dr Aggarwal said.

He said PSP could be characterized by various symptoms including progressive supranuclear ophthalmoplegia (inability to move eyes), gait disorder (difficulty in walking and postural), dysarthria (difficulty in speech), dysphagia (difficulty in eating) and rigidity etc.


The disease is difficult to diagnose as some doctors confuse it with Parkinson’s disorder due to some similar features.

“The two most common types of PSP are Richardson syndrome and PSP parkinsonism.

PSP with predominant parkinsonism (PSP-P) is characterized by asymmetric onset of limb symptoms, tremor, and a moderate initial therapeutic response to levodopa. It may be confused with idiopathic Parkinson disease,” said Dr Aggarwal.

He said the diagnosis of PSP during life is based upon the clinical features and suspicion for PSP is raised when new-onset neurologic, cognitive, or behavioural deficits progress in absence of other identifiable cause in a patient ≥ 40 years of age.

“The core clinical features include postural instability, oculomotor deficits, especially vertical gaze palsy, akinesia/parkinsonism, and frontal lobe impairments, including speech and language problems and behavioral change. No laboratory or imaging studies are diagnostic,” Dr Aggarwal said.

“Neuropathologic examination remains the gold standard for its definitive diagnosis,” he added.

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