Science

New Ultrasound Technology Could Be Used To Treat Parkinson's Tremors

By Christie Abagon , Dec 09, 2016 04:07 PM EST
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Doctors in the UK were able to treat a man who suffered from uncontrollable tremors in his right hand using a technique which avoids the need for invasive brain surgery.  This promises hope for patients of Parkinson's disease and other debilitating illnesses which causes uncontrollable shaking. 

Ultrasound Machine Targets Brain Circuits Which Cause Tremors

Selwyn Lucas, 52, from Cornwall, suffered from uncontrollable tremors in his right hand for 20 years.  According to BBC, after the treatment, his hand is now steady and he felt "fantastic".

"For many years I managed to live a relatively normal life with my tremor but over the last five years it had started to prevent me from leading the life I wanted to lead," he said. 

The ultrasound treatment that doctors used on him is known as "MRI-guided focused ultrasound for brain".  It works by applying heat energy from ultrasound waves to specific parts of the brain in order to break the abnormal circuit which causes the tremor. 

Consultant radiologist and principal investigator for the latest trial Professor Wladyslaw Gedroyc told Telegraph about the treatment: "We are pleased with the results of the trial so far.  We anticipate that this new approach to therapy in essential tremor and other movement disorders, including Parkinson's, will allow huge improvements in patients' quality-of-life without the need for invasive procedures or expensive, poorly tolerated and often ineffective drug therapy."

Essential Tremor Affects Millions In The UK

 In the UK, around one million people suffer from essential tremor, which causes uncontrollable shaking.  The shaking is said to be caused by abnormal electrical circuits in the brain.  Usually, if a patient does not respond to medications, doctors may suggest surgery, but this breakthrough avoids that. 

Head of Research Communications and Engagement at Parkinson's UK, Claire Bale said: "The development of focused ultrasound techniques offers a new and promising tool for treating tremor.  It is particularly attractive because this therapy could provide similar benefits to deep brain stimulation but without the need invasive brain surgery which comes with risks of infection."

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