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What are atypical parkinsonian syndromes (APS)?

Atypical parkinsonian syndromes (APS), or parkinsonism plus syndrome, is a term used when a patient exhibits symptoms seen in classic Parkinson’s disease, but they have a different cause.

Symptoms

Symptoms of APS and Parkinson’s disease can include:

  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
  • Impairment of the power of voluntary movement (akinesia)
  • Slowness of thought (bradyphrenia)
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Tremors
  • Loss of balance

Causes

In typical Parkinson’s disease, these symptoms are known to be caused by the loss of nerve cells in the brainstem and the resulting depletion of the neurotransmitter dopamine. When there is additional cell degeneration in the nervous system, it is atypical. The causes of APS are not yet known, but unlike typical Parkinson’s disease, they are not thought to be genetic.

Types

Some types of APS include:

  • Progressive supranuclear palsy
  • Multiple systems atrophy
  • Corticobasal ganglionic degeneration
  • Diffuse lewy body disease
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