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What is hereditary spastic paraplegia?

Hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), also called familial spastic paraparesis (FSP), refers to a group of inherited disorders characterized by progressive weakness and spasticity (stiffness) of the legs. Early in the disease course, there may be mild gait difficulties and stiffness. These symptoms progress slowly and eventually individuals with HSP may require assistance of a cane, walker, or wheelchair. Although the primary features of HSP are progressive lower extremity spasticity and weakness, the complicated forms may be accompanied by other symptoms. These symptoms include conditions that affect the optic nerve and retina of the eye, cataracts, ataxia (lack of muscle coordination), epilepsy, cognitive impairment, peripheral neuropathy, and deafness. The diagnosis of HSP is primarily by neurological examination and testing to rule out other disorders. Several genetic mutations have been identified, which underlie some of the forms of HSP, and specialized genetic testing and diagnosis are available at some medical centers.

 This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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