Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., announced Monday that she would not be running for reelection and planned to retire following a diagnosis of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).

Wexton, who is 55-years-old and has served in the House of Representatives since 2019, announced that will not seek reelection next year due to the effects of the rare neurological disorder. 

This decision came more than five months after she publicly disclosed that she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which her medical team later clarified to be PSP.

“When I shared with the world my diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease a few months ago, I knew that the road ahead would have its challenges, and I’ve worked hard to navigate those challenges through consistent treatments and therapies,” she said in a statement. “But I wasn’t making the progress to manage my symptoms that I had hoped, and I noticed the women in my Parkinson’s support group weren’t having the same experience that I was. I sought out additional medical opinions and testing, and my doctors modified my diagnosis to Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy — a kind of ‘Parkinson’s on steroids.’”

PSP is a frontotemporal disorder that can cause dementia along with issues walking and balancing. It affects around 20,000 Americans, mostly those over the age of 60. The prognosis for the condition is considered generally poor, with people living around seven years after being diagnosed.

Wexton stated that there is “no getting better” with PSP, noting that while she will continue to receive treatments that largely target Parkinson’s disease, they are not as effective for treating the former disease.

She added that once she leaves Washington in early 2025, she plans to spend her “valued time” with her husband and two sons.

The press release announcing her pending retirement included information from the National Institutes of Health on PSP, including common symptoms, diagnosis and prognosis.

As was the case with Wexton, PSP is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease, though medical researchers have looked into tests to improve the accuracy of diagnoses.

In recent years, researchers found that the Edinburgh Cognitive and Behavioral ALS Screen, a 15- to 20-minute assessment used to detect cognitive and behavioral changes in motor disorders, may be a simple and effective tool for differentiating between PSP and Parkinson’s disease.

The research in this space is ongoing but there have been meaningful discoveries as of late.

A study published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences last year found that jerky, irregular vertical eye oscillations observed in patients with PSP have temporal features that resemble those of head oscillations.