Treating Tremors: New procedure gives patients hope

Treating Tremors: New procedure gives patients hope
New procedure done in Ohio helps those with tremors (Source: WOIO)

(WOIO) - Researchers are constantly looking for ways to help people with tremors. Now there is a new, non-invasive procedure that gives hope to a variety of patients.

Essential Tremors, a disease that causes uncontrollable shaking, affects more than 10 million Americans. A new procedure being performed at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is allowing those affected with tremors to have hope that some day they will be able to live tremor free.

This non-invasive procedure stops the shaking by burning away brain cells that ultimately cause it. Although it is still in its trial phase, doctors say it is showing incredible hope for patients.

Stephen Palovchik has suffered from hand tremors since he was just a teenager. Everyday activities, like working, eating and writing, were challenging growing up. But since having the procedure, he says his tremors are gone.

"My right hand is basically rock solid, as you can see. Which is pretty amazing since it's almost two weeks and a day, I think, from when I had the procedure," Palovchik says.

This procedure is known as "MR guided Focused Ultrasound." The doctors use ultrasound waves to make a tiny lesion in the brain and short circuit the
area causing tremors.

"This is brain surgery without cutting the skin. So, non-invasively, the ultrasound waves are delivered and converge into part of the brain that is
malfunctioning, causing the tremor," says Dr. Ali Reza.

Also known as "High Intensity Focused Ultrasound," thousands of ultrasound rays converge into the brain, gradually heating up to 150 degrees and precisely burn the cells affected. The results are immediate and long lasting.

"There is some healing that happens, but complete rewiring or complete regeneration is not possible in brain. So we take advantage of that part," explains Dr. Vibhor Krishna.

To prevent the scalp from burning, rays pass through a helmet of cooled water. The MRI verifies where doctors should target and monitor progress in real time. During this process, doctors test handwriting to see if it is improving, and Palovchik's was.

"If anybody saw me after the procedure, I mean, I was literally in tears. Because it's been almost a lifelong ordeal. It was just, to me, a gift from heaven," Palovchik says.

This technology was developed in Israel by a company called INSIGHTEC, and is now being tested at six centers within the United States.

Doctors believe this procedure might not only help patients with essential tremors, but also help those suffering from Parkinson's disease,
obsessive compulsive disorder, epilepsy and even depression.

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