The Firsts Achieved by Our Essential Tremor Alliance Members

The Essential Tremor Education Center aims to deliver accurate essential tremor information and news to those with essential tremor and their loved ones. To make sure you have the best information possible, we’ve assembled an alliance of medical providers who have been pioneers in researching essential tremor treatment. Today, we would like to highlight the milestones our alliance members have reached in researching and providing a new treatment option to patients, MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS). This treatment uses MRI to target the area of the brain responsible for the tremor, and then uses focused ultrasound beams to lesion the area, effectively diminishing the tremor for many.

Sperling Medical Group

Located in Delray Beach, Florida, the Sperling Medical Group has been nationally recognized as a leader in MRI-guided technology. Dr. Travis Tierney and Dr. Dan Sperling have also received recognition for their roles in using MRI to treat a variety of conditions. After MRgFUS became FDA-approved, Sperling took this opportunity to use it to treat essential tremor patients, making them among the first in Florida to use MRgFUS to treat the condition.

Weill Cornell Brain & Spine Center

Weill Cornell Brain & Spine Center is a highly recognized hospital in New York, ranking as the #1 hospital in the state for 16 years in a row. Dr. Michael Kaplitt initially participated in the essential tremor clinical trial for MRgFUS and continued performing the procedure for Weill Cornell’s patients just weeks after it was FDA-approved. His work marks the first time that Focused Ultrasound treatment was performed in New York.

All Alliance Members

Each of our alliance members has taken steps toward uncovering new research about treating essential tremor, including:

  • Swedish Medical Center and Dr. Ryder Gwinn, whose research was critical for FDA-approval of Focused Ultrasound treatment for essential tremor.
  • The University of Maryland Medical Center and Dr. Howard Eisenberg, who is an established leader in researching essential tremor.
  • The University of Virginia Medical Center and Dr. Jeffrey Elias, who led an international clinical trial of 76 patients that proved that Focused Ultrasound treatment was a safe and effective option for essential tremor patients.

It’s thanks to our alliance members that we’re able to keep you up-to-date with advances made in essential tremor treatment. They have all dedicated their time to learning more about essential tremor and offering new, quality treatments to those searching for tremor relief. If you’d like to learn more about our alliance members and their accomplishments, you can do so here.

Essential Tremor Symptoms: From Initial Onset & On

What is the most common type of hand tremor? Many may say Parkinson’s, but it’s actually essential tremor. Despite essential tremor being the most common type of tremor, many are unaware that it exists and confuse essential tremor symptoms for other conditions. If you or a loved one have essential tremor, knowledge of the symptoms is one of the first steps toward learning how to manage and treat the tremor. Here is what to look out for as tremors begin and progress.

Essential tremor often starts in one upper extremity, most often a hand—although the head and voice can also be affected. At first, these tremors may be mild and intermittent, only acting up during times of high emotion. Over time, however, the tremors can become more persistent. Tremors in one hand can also become more severe and begin to affect the other hand. Some asymmetry between the hand tremors is normal.

Essential tremor is classified as an action tremor—meaning that hand tremors are worse when you’re trying to use your hands, such as when you write your name or pour a glass of water. The tremor is less severe when hands are at rest. This can be a source of stress for many individuals, especially those who need steady hands for their job.

Symptoms can be further aggravated by several triggers, such as stress, hunger, fatigue or extreme temperatures. Management of these triggers can be a major step toward managing symptoms—keeping stress levels low and minimizing the use of stimulants such as caffeine can help keep tremors from worsening. Still, initially manageable tremors can become more severe later.

Many who experience essential tremor symptoms find ways to manage them, but if the tremor affects your day-to-day life then it may be time to investigate treatment options. These options include medication, invasive surgery, and non-invasive options such as Gamma Knife and MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound. If you or a loved one are struggling with symptoms and are looking for potential treatment options, please call the Essential Tremor Education Center at 844-NO-TREMOR to speak to one of our educators to see what options may be available.

How Exactly Does Essential Tremor Work?

Despite its prevalence as the most common movement disorder, many individuals are unaware of essential tremor’s existence and symptoms. As a result, it often gets confused with other movement disorders like Parkinson’s. While essential tremor is not a degenerative disorder like Parkinson’s, the hand-shaking symptoms can still be a source of stress for those who experience them. And the lack of open discussion about essential tremor causes and symptoms can add an extra level of anxiety when it comes to managing and treating the condition. Those with essential tremor may ask: what, exactly, is causing my hands or head to shake?

What is essential tremor?

Essential tremor is an action tremor, meaning that shaking is most severe when you’re using your hands—such as while eating, drinking, applying makeup, or writing. While it most commonly affects the hands, some people also experience shaking of the head or voice. At first, tremors can be mild and intermittent and then grow more persistent and severe over time. The tremor is often worsened by triggers like fatigue, stress, or stimulants.

What causes essential tremor?

The cause of essential tremor is neurological. Abnormal electrical fluctuations in the brain can send the wrong signals to the muscles, causing them to shake. The thalamus has been the key area of the brain targeted for treatments such as Gamma Knife and MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound. These treatments interrupt the abnormal signal’s path through the thalamus, decreasing the severity of the tremor for many patients.

Also, there’s a hereditary link to essential tremor. Those with the condition often have a family member who has experienced tremors. This has caused essential tremor to sometimes be referred to as a “familial tremor.”

Essential tremor is common, and many who experience it have found ways to live with it. Knowing essential tremor causes is one step toward understanding and managing the symptoms. However, for some individuals, the severity of the tremor can complicate daily tasks enough for them to feel as though they lack autonomy. There are treatment options available to help manage symptoms, ranging from medication to surgery. If you or a loved one are struggling with essential tremor, please contact the Essential Tremor Education Center at 844-NO-TREMOR to learn more about essential tremor and possible treatment options.

Manage Essential Tremor Symptoms by Limiting Stimulants

There are daily tasks that many take for granted, such as writing legibly and drinking water without the fear of spilling. Those who experience essential tremor symptoms often see these tasks as a constant test of patience. Understanding the triggers that make these tremors worse can be a vital step in learning how to manage their severity. One trigger we at the Essential Tremor Education Center recommend limiting is stimulants.

Because it’s an action tremor, essential tremor is most noticeable when it’s the most inconvenient: when you’re trying to use your hands to complete your daily tasks. While treatment may diminish the tremor, some may prefer to learn how to manage mild symptoms. Avoiding triggers, such as stimulants, can aid tremor management. Stimulants have a negative effect on the tremor, adding to its severity and the stress you may experience when using your hands. The most common forms of stimulants include:

Caffeine

For many people, caffeine is a normal part of the morning routine that helps us wake up and prepare for our day. For those with essential tremor, however, caffeine hinders the ability to easily handle most tasks. Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee or a soda, try planning your evenings so that you consistently get enough sleep. You’ll feel more naturally well-rested—and you’ll take steps toward avoiding fatigue, another common trigger.

Stimulant Asthma Medications

If you have asthma, your doctor may have you on a medication that’s also a stimulant. Asthma treatment is important—it’s not recommended to stop taking something your doctor has prescribed for your health. But, if it’s something you use frequently, you may benefit from discussing the medication with your doctor to see if there are viable options that offer asthma relief without triggering your tremor.

Some triggers for essential tremor symptoms are difficult to manage. Common triggers, like stress and anxiety, cannot be avoided completely. Limiting your use of stimulants can be an easier and more viable way to manage symptoms for some. However, others may find that their tremors are too severe to manage. If this is you, then treatment may give you symptomatic relief. Our educators at the Essential Tremor Education Center are available if you want to learn more about how to manage or treat essential tremor—you can contact us by calling 844-NO-TREMOR.

3 Ways to Better Handle Stress

Life can be stressful. Those who are struggling with essential tremor experience an additional stressor: hand tremors make daily tasks, like writing a letter or drinking a glass of water, into a test of patience. Stress management is important for everyone’s physical and mental well-being, but those with essential tremor have an additional motivator for avoiding stress—this is a trigger that makes tremors worse for many. The Essential Tremor Education Center has a few tips for essential tremor patients to manage their stress.

 

  • Massage Therapy

 

While massage cannot cure or treat essential tremor, it may alleviate some of the stress that triggers symptoms. Massage therapy is now increasingly easy to find and is readily available to many. Those who go through massage therapy often experience reduced stress, pain and muscle tension. If you’ve found yourself stressed out due to symptoms, massage therapy may help you take the time you need to cool down and relax.

 

  • Meditation

 

Meditation may be a viable option for stress management. It doesn’t have to take up a huge portion of your day—and it’s free. Taking fifteen minutes out of your day to meditate and relax your mind can help lower your stress levels. Also, those who meditate also experience increased happiness, self-awareness, and self-acceptance.

 

  • Manage Symptoms

 

Much of the stress experienced by those with essential tremor is due to symptoms making it difficult to perform day-to-day tasks. A few small tweaks can help you avoid some of the struggle, such as keeping travel mugs with lids to prevent spilling while drinking, using a signature stamp instead of signing your name on forms and checks, and asking for your food to be pre-cut when ordering at a restaurant. These small changes can help you avoid the situations that can cause stress.

Stress relief is important managing symptoms, but some may still find that their hand tremors have too much of a negative effect on their quality of life. If you’re struggling with your symptoms, essential tremor treatment may be a viable option for relief. Please contact the educators at the Essential Tremor Education Center today at 844-NO-TREMOR to learn what options may be available to you.

Comparing Noninvasive Essential Tremor Treatment Options

Invasive surgery can be a scary thought for many who are looking for essential tremor treatment. Luckily, it’s not always necessary to go through invasive surgery for symptomatic relief. There are several noninvasive treatment options available that have helped many patients return to their daily lives with a lessened tremor. A few of these options are Neuravive, Gamma Knife, and medication.

Neuravive

Neuravive, also known as MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS), is a newly FDA-approved option that lesions the brain without the use of incisions. Neuravive first uses MRI to target the thalamus—the area of the brain thought to cause essential tremor—and then uses short, 15-second bursts of ultrasound waves to treat the targeted area.

Patients often experience a decreased tremor immediately following treatment, and no ionizing radiation is used. However, since Neuravive lesions the brain, the results are irreversible.

Gamma Knife

Gamma Knife treatment is similar to Neuravive, in that it targets and lesions the thalamus without the use of invasive surgery. Gamma Knife uses multiple beams of radiation, focused on the targeted area of the thalamus. These radiation beams do not target healthy tissue in the process.

Patients generally feel symptomatic relief around 3-6 months following the procedure. However, ionizing radiation is used to treat the brain. And, like Neuravive, the lesioning is irreversible.

Medication

While medication cannot cure essential tremor, many patients experience symptomatic relief while taking medication. Most often, beta blockers and anti-seizure medications are prescribed for hand tremors. While they help many, up to 30% of essential tremor patients do not find them helpful. Also, as with any medication, there are often side effects such as nausea, sleeping problems or fatigue.

With several treatment options available, you may wonder: which essential tremor treatment would offer relief for my hand tremors? While education is the first step toward taking your health into your own hands, it’s always best to ask for advice from a specialist before undergoing treatment. If you’d like to learn more about the treatment options that may be available to you before scheduling an appointment with your doctor, you can contact the educators at the Essential Tremor Education Center by calling 844-NO-TREMOR.

Essential Tremor Focused Ultrasound Treatment Could Become More Widespread

For those who have been unresponsive to essential tremor treatment, another option may soon be more widely available. The newest noninvasive treatment, MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS), has only been FDA-approved for a year. Many patients have experienced a diminished tremor after the treatment, but the practice has yet to become widespread. This may soon change. The FDA has recently approved the common 1.5T MRI systems for use during Focused Ultrasound treatments.

Focused Ultrasound had received FDA-approval in July 2016 as a treatment option for essential tremor patients who were unresponsive to surgery. This procedure first uses an MRI to locate and target the area of the brain that’s responsible for the patient’s tremor. Then, 15-second bursts of focused ultrasound waves are used to treat the brain. Many patients have enjoyed a diminished tremor immediately following the procedure.

Insightec, a leader in Focused Ultrasound treatment, had previously received FDA approval to use 3.0T MRI systems to perform the procedure. Now they’ve been approved to use 1.5T MRIs during treatment. This system is more commonly used than the 3.0T system that they had been previously approved for. This could open up new avenues for this treatment to be more widely available to patients—1.5T MRI systems are the ones most frequently used in hospitals today.

Essential tremor, an action tremor that most commonly affects the hands and head, is the most common movement disorder—yet its existence is not well known. Previous treatment options have included medication, invasive surgery, and the noninvasive Gamma Knife that uses ionizing radiation to lesion the brain without surgery. Now, focused ultrasound is gaining speed as a possible option for patients who have not experienced symptomatic relief from other treatments. The approval for 1.5T MRI systems to be used is just one more step toward this procedure becoming a common option.

The Essential Tremor Education Center is excited to see how this new FDA approval may help those with essential tremor. For those with a severe tremor, essential tremor treatment may be the relief they need to handle their day-to-day tasks without the added struggle of tremors. If you’d like to learn more about the advancements being made in treatment, or the options that may be available to you please check out our blog or call our educators at 844-NO-TREMOR.

With Focused Ultrasound from the Swedish Medical Center, Gregg Returned to Work

Essential tremor can be severe enough to negatively impact a person’s ability to perform basic tasks. Gregg Ley knows this well. Three years ago, he began to experience increased tremors in his right side. He could no longer live his life the way he had before. He struggled to eat with utensils, he couldn’t write his own name, and his tremors prevented him from working in the TV repair shop he owned with his brother. In his search for essential tremor treatment, he traveled to Seattle to visit the Swedish Medical Center for help.

Thanks to knowledgeable physicians like Dr. Ryder Gwinn, the Swedish Medical Center has become a leader in research for a new treatment option for essential tremor, MR-guided focused ultrasound, or Neuravive. It’s currently the only facility in the Pacific Northwest to offer the treatment to patients. Unlike previous treatment options, focused ultrasound does not use invasive surgery. To help Gregg’s tremor, MRI was used to locate the damaged area of the brain causing the tremor—and then focused ultrasound was used to lesion the area, without ever having to make an incision.

The outpatient treatment took four and a half hours, and the results were immediate. Gregg’s tremor diminished enough for him to draw a spiral perfectly post-treatment. Before, he struggled to write his name. Now, he can write and eat again without dropping the food on his fork. He can return to his work. Gregg spoke positively of his results after visiting the Swedish Medical Center, saying, “It’s a wonderful thing. I’ve got my life back.”

Dr. Ryder Gwinn and the Swedish Medical Center are continuing to help patients like Gregg who are suffering because of essential tremor. Focused ultrasound treatment has helped many patients enjoy a diminished tremor. Although long-term results are still unknown, as the procedure has only been FDA approved since July, 2016, the Swedish Medical Center has hope for these patients who have experienced positive results. If you or your loved ones have essential tremor and would like to learn more about focused ultrasound or other essential tremor treatment options that may be available, please contact our educators at the Essential Tremor Education Center by calling 844-NO-TREMOR.

Finding the Right Medical Professional for You

The Essential Tremor Education Center, a social health company headquartered in Winter Park, Florida, aims to provide educational resources for those who are struggling with essential tremor and their loved ones. We believe that education is critical in the treatment of essential tremor. Through learning about essential tremor and the treatment options available, you can begin to take control over your own health.

Of course, the best information comes from physicians. You should always consult your physician before treatment, and we also want to provide you with physician-driven information so that you know what’s available. To provide you with the best resources possible, we provide an educational service through collaboration with an alliance of medical providers who have served pioneering roles in furthering research for essential tremor treatment. Our providers include Sperling Medical Group, Swedish Medical Center, the University of Maryland Medical Center, the University of Virginia Medical Center, and the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center.

It’s with the help of these knowledgeable alliance members and their physicians that we’re able to deliver you physician-directed content that could help you in learning more about essential tremor. Today, we’d like to give you an easy way to learn more about what each medical center provides, as well as a way to reach out to inquire about treatment.

Alliance Member Homepage Phone Number Location Physician
Swedish Medical Center http://tremoreducation.com/swedish-medical-center/ 844-764-8736 Seattle, WA Dr. Ryder Gwinn
Sperling Medical Group http://tremoreducation.com/sperling-medical-group/ 844-426-3783 Delray Beach, FL Dr. Travis Tierney and Dr. Dan Sperling
University of Maryland Medical Center http://tremoreducation.com/umd/ 844-638-7366 Baltimore, MD Dr. Howard Eisenberg
University of Virginia Medical Center http://tremoreducation.com/uva/ 844-488-2873 Charlottesville, VA Dr. Jeffrey Elias
Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center http://tremoreducation.com/weill-cornell/ 844-928-7366 New York, NY Dr. Michael Kaplitt

We hope you enjoy learning more about our alliance members and the quality treatment for essential tremor that they provide. If you’d like to learn more about essential tremor and treatment options through the Essential Tremor Education Center, please call us at 844-NO-TREMOR. Our team of educators are trained in essential tremor and the solutions available and would be happy to speak to you about what options may be available for you.

New York’s Essential Tremor Neuravive Treatment Pioneer: Dr. Kaplitt

Today, almost a year from the pioneering trial to diminish essential tremor symptoms, the Essential Tremor Education Center would like to highlight Dr. Kaplitt’s contributions to a new treatment. Dr. Kaplitt, from the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center, is consistently named one of the top doctors in New York—and has been a major voice in educating people about the new, FDA-approved treatment option for essential tremor utilizing MR-guided focused ultrasound technology.

On July 21st, 2016, just shortly after it was FDA-approved, Dr. Kaplitt became the first doctor in New York to relieve essential tremor symptoms using Neuravive, a new procedure utilizing FDA-approved focused ultrasound technology. This was during a clinical trial that tested the use of focused ultrasound technology to locate and then lesion the source of the tremor—without invasive surgery. Focused ultrasound treatments had previously seen success in treating uterine fibroids, as well as breast and prostate cancer, and now the technology can be used to treat essential tremor. The focused ultrasound techniques are precise as they overcome the obstacle of penetrating the skull and lesion the troublesome area of the brain.

Dr. Kaplitt’s earlier contributions to neurological disorders made him an ideal participant to lead the trial; he had previously been a pioneer in testing the benefits of gene therapy for those with Parkinson’s. Participants in the essential tremor clinical trial treated by Dr. Kaplitt enjoyed a diminished tremor after undergoing treatment, and he’s excited about what the positive results of this trial could mean for not only essential tremor treatment, but other conditions including other movement disorders, Alzheimer’s, and metastatic brain tumors.

The successes of Dr. Kaplitt’s New York trial last summer have been highlighted on a number of shows such as the Charlie Rose Show, Good Day New York, and Business Insider. He’s appeared alongside one of his first patients, Alexandra Lebenthal, who serves as proof that MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment can be a potential benefit to those who have been suffering from hand tremor.

The Essential Tremor Education Center is glad that Weill Cornell, where Dr. Kaplitt utilizes this procedure, is one of our valued Alliance Members dedicated to educating more about essential tremor. If you or a loved one is experiencing essential tremor symptoms, please call us at 844-NO-TREMOR to learn more about essential tremor and the treatment options that may be available.