For the first time in more than 15 years, Thomas Baker can drink a cup of coffee, worry-free. One of 5 million Americans afflicted with involuntary shaking, a movement disorder known as essential tremor, Thomas had trouble holding a hot cup of coffee or even eating food with utensils.
“At first, the medications I was prescribed seemed to be working. But then it just got worse over the years,” recalls Thomas, a retired business manager, father of two and grandfather of two, who lives right outside of Birmingham, Alabama. “I was miserable and even embarrassed to eat in front of my family.”
Then a family friend recommended he seek treatment at the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI). The RNI is one of only a handful of comprehensive centers in the country offering innovative treatment using focused ultrasound that requires no exposure to radiation to treat essential tremor in tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease.
“The focused ultrasound procedure does not require surgery or cutting the skin, and improvements are seen immediately,” Ali Rezai, MD, executive chair of the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, said.
Focused ultrasound enables physicians to identify and target, with pinpoint accuracy, the specific part of the brain causing the tremor. Since the patient is awake throughout, doctors can immediately gauge the effectiveness of the treatment by having the patient draw, write his or her name, or hold a cup.
At WVU Medicine, patients with essential tremor, Parkinson’s, and other movement disorders are managed and treated by the movement disorder specialist at the WVU Comprehensive Movement Disorders Clinic, where specialty movement disorders work closely with Neurosurgery to help patients regain optimal motor control of their bodies.
“Essential tremor is more than just a tremor. It is a life-changing condition. As a healthcare provider, there is nothing more rewarding than being able to improve a patient’s quality of life,” Ann Murray, MD, director of the WVU Comprehensive Movement Disorders Clinic, said.
Thomas was so pleased with the results; his left hand no longer shakes. “It’s a miracle. I prayed for a cure, and this procedure is liberating.”
To see a video about the first MR-guided focused ultrasound patient, click here. For more information on MR-guided focused ultrasound for essential tremor, visit WVUMedicine.org/Tremor. For more information on the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, visit WVUMedicine.org/RNI.