Medication is often the first treatment option used for essential tremor. Medication can be an effective method to control tremors, but some patients can find side effects intolerable or that the effectiveness reduces over time. Mary Beth Bidwell, an essential tremor patient who initially started out on medication, learned that medication may not always be the best option—especially now that a new, non-invasive procedure is available.
Bidwell, a 52-year-old bookkeeper for PGA Magazine, experienced essential tremor most severely in her left hand. As many patients with essential tremor have learned, the tremor makes working difficult. The key tasks of her job, including typing and writing, became increasingly complicated due to her hands shaking.
For treatment, she first utilized medication. Propranolol, a common prescription for essential tremor, didn’t stop her tremors. Higher doses of the medication didn’t help, either. Unfortunately, Bidwell did experience side effects: fatigue, weight gain, and low blood pressure.
Bidwell was hesitant to undergo invasive surgery such as deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS involves inserting wires into a patient’s brain and then stimulating the thalamus with electricity. This surgery can be an effective method to control tremor. However, to Bidwell, a new, noninvasive treatment option called Neuravive seems like a better alternative. This procedure uses MRI to target the affected area of the brain, and then applies focused ultrasound to the area to diminish the tremor.
She signed up for a clinical trial for Neuravive at Penn Medicine. During her treatment, between bursts of focused ultrasound, staff would ask her to draw a spiral to determine the effectiveness of the procedure. At first, she struggled to draw a smooth spiral By the fourth attempt, Bidwell could draw a spiral without any signs of tremor. While Bidwell experienced slight unsteadiness as she recovered, her condition rapidly improved over the following week. She enjoyed her new ability to drink without spilling—and to type accurately at work.
Bidwell is not the only one to experience the benefits of Neuravive. If you’ve found essential tremor medication to be ineffective, Neuravive or another form of treatment may be an option. You can learn more about treatment options that may be available to you by calling the Essential Tremor Education Center at 844-NO-TREMOR.