How rare is HSP?

Comparison with other conditions


We all know that HSP is rare, but have you ever wondered how rare it is compared with other conditions you’ve heard of? Here are some figures to show where HSP fits into the overall picture of rarer diseases, as well as some information on the other conditions.




Motor Neurone Disease






Cystic Fibrosis



Multiple Sclerosis



Cerebral Palsy



Parkinson’s Disease



*some conditions have different prevalence rates in different countries due to ethnic differences, industrialised vs non-industrialised, etc.



Motor neurone disease (MND) also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and as Lou Gehrig’s disease in the USA, is a progressive neurological disease affecting approximately 1,400 people in Australia and thousands more – their carers, families and friends – live daily with its impact. On average every day in Australia at least one person dies from MND and another is diagnosed. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time. While the incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is similar across the world (range, 1.0 to 2.5/100 000), a latitude gradient from north to south has been observed.


Cystic Fibrosis

“Only 70,000 have CF worldwide.” The numbers in Australia are estimated at 3,000. Approximately 30,000 children and adults in the United States have cystic fibrosis.

Forbes Magazine Two Steps Forward Sept 1, 2008.



There is no one symptom that indicates the presence of MS. No single test can establish an accurate diagnosis. It can be benign – in rare cases apparently disappearing altogether after one or two episodes. Or it can progress steadily over many years, bringing about a slow deterioration in an individual’s capabilities.

It is estimated that 21,000 people in Australia have MS. An estimated 2,500,000 people are living with MS worldwide.



Cerebral palsy is an ‘umbrella’ description for a group of non-progressive disorders of movement and posture caused by damage to the developing brain. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a physical condition that primarily affects movement.

In Australia:

  • every 18 hours a child is born with cerebral palsy. Around 6-700 are born with CP each year.
  • Of every 1,000 live births, at least 2 children will be diagnosed as having cerebral palsy before the age of 5 years.
  • Over 34,000 people have cerebral palsy.


Parkinson’s Disease

It is difficult to diagnose Parkinson’s disease as there are no pathological tests or identifying markers to confirm a diagnosis. Diagnosis is based on a progressive history of deterioration in function and clinical impression.

One in every 350 Australians
lives with Parkinson’s Disease. Australia’s second commonest neurological disease, Parkinson’s Disease, has grown in numbers by 17% over the last 6 years.

It is a global phenomenon being recognized in all cultures and is estimated to affect approximately 6.3 million individuals worldwide.  Exact figures are not available from any source in Australia however the prevalence of in the UK is estimated at 1.6 per 1,000. It is considered to be the second most common progressive neurological condition (dementia being the most common). Increasing age is unequivocally associated with increasing risk for Parkinson’s. Incidence is documented as 1:1000 for people over 65 and 1:100 over 75 years. There is some evidence that the incidence decreases after the age of 85.



MND Australia


Cystic Fibrosis Australia


MS Australia


Cerebral Palsy Australia


Parkinson’s Australia



  1. I had HSP when I was 7 or 10 and their was a lot of trips back and forth from the hospital. the symptoms were couldn’t breath, eye swelling, foot swelling. worst part of my life and I hope I never again.

    1. Editor’s Note: The symptoms you describe are not consistent with Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP). Could it be that your condition was Henoch-Schönlein Purpura, another condition that also gets shortened to ‘HSP’? It is a rare disease found more commonly in children than adults and is generally curable after a period.

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