Alliance Member Spotlight: Michael Kaplitt

Dr. Michael Kaplitt, a Neurosurgeon at one of the Essential Tremor Education Center’s alliance members, has been a leading voice in pioneering new essential tremor treatments. Operating out of Weill Cornell Medical Center, Dr. Kaplitt participated in the clinical trial of MR-guided focused ultrasound, and was the first in New York to offer the treatment. Today, we would like to share his thoughts on the Neuravive procedure.

Dr. Kaplitt enjoys a life like many others. He spends time with his family, plays tennis—and treats movement disorders such as essential tremor. His overall interest in movement disorder surgery, particularly Parkinson’s, led him to become involved with essential tremors. “The idea that we can precisely manipulate circuits that are very specific to tremor in the human brain without affecting other areas became very attractive to me because that fit very nicely with my overall goal of targeted therapeutics…” As he studied more about essential tremor, he learned about a new possible form of treatment: MR-guided focused ultrasound, which uses focused ultrasound to lesion the area of the brain causing the tremor—without needing invasive surgery. After discussing the procedure and its history in treating other diseases with the chairman of his department, they decided to pursue this treatment more seriously.

While many have benefited from the procedure since its FDA-approval, Dr. Kaplitt notes that patients still have concerns: “Focused ultrasound is a fairly new therapy. We obviously do not have the same level of experience and follow up compared to treatments we have used for fifteen to twenty years.” However, Dr. Kaplitt is hopeful for the future of focused ultrasound, as patients have sustained a diminished tremor for over two years. “The fact that the two-year data shows equivalence to the one-year data says to us that we can be very hopeful that the vast majority of patients should be able to have stability for many years.”

Dr. Kaplitt continues to perform focused ultrasound treatment out of Weill Cornell Medical Center and enjoys every moment: “There are a lot of other areas of neurosurgery where the goal is to prevent further damage or save someone’s life—which is incredibly gratifying—but there are very few areas of neurosurgery where you can actually make them better than they were before they came in.” He hopes that focused ultrasound can, in time, show benefits for other disorders, such as Parkinson’s and epilepsy.

The educators at Essential Tremor Education Center are as excited as Dr. Kaplitt about the benefits that this essential tremor treatment could have for many with tremors. You can learn more about essential tremor studies by visiting our new, interactive webinar with Doug Couch, click here to watch Dr. Kaplitt’s episode. For any questions or concerns, please call us at 844-NO-TREMOR, 844-668-7366, to speak to one of our educators.