Dudley Moore struck by rare disorder

David Usborne@dusborne
Wednesday 29 September 1999 23:02

THE BRITISH comic actor and pianist Dudley Moore, 64, revealed yesterday that he is having treatment in the United States for an extremely rare brain disorder. There is no known cure for the illness, known as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy or PSP, which is closely related to Parkinson's disease.

Moore, who rose to fame in Britain with the Sixties satirical review Beyond the Fringe, before becoming a Hollywood fixture as the star of the films 10 and Arthur, has reportedly been in ill health for some time. He has suffered several strokes and had heart surgery.

Until yesterday, however, his battle with PSP had been a well-kept secret. In early 1998, he first began to notice symptoms of the disease, which include loss of balance, falling over and difficulty with limb movement. PSP is hard to diagnose and it was only identified in Moore's case in February.

The actor, who is able to walk with a stick, said he was receiving therapy at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, New Jersey. Some of the drugs prescribed to Parkinson's patients can be used in cases of PSP to alleviate the worst of the symptoms.

Striking a humorous note, he said last night: "I understand that one person in 100,000 suffers from this disease, and I am also aware that there are 100,000 members of my union, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), who are working every day. I think, therefore, it is in some way considerate of me that I have taken on the disease for myself, thus protecting the remaining 99,999 SAG members from this fate."

Dr Lawrence Golbe of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School said yesterday that PSP "typically produces a chair-bound state five to six years into the illness". He added that PSP differs from Parkinson's because it produces little or no tremor and from Alzheimer's because there are no associated problems with memory or speech. "Rather, the problems are in the areas of speed, inhibition, emotion and organisation of thought."

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