As a new treatment for essential tremor, MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS), becomes more well-known, a common question is how well patients retain results over time. MRgFUS uses focused ultrasound to treat the affected area of the brain without using surgery or radiation. While it has been effective for many patients with a tremor, there are not many examples of long-term effectiveness available. Today, the Essential Tremor Education Center would like to share the story of Chuck Pringle, who is one example of long-term results.
Chuck first noticed he had a tremor in his early 40s. It wasn’t very noticeable at first—it only became apparent in little ways. He was able to adapt and it didn’t affect his work. But as he started to get closer to retirement, the tremor started to progress and he found it difficult to eat and drink water. At this point, he didn’t know what was causing his hands to shake.
After he retired, he decided to seek an official diagnosis. His doctor accurately pinpointed the cause of his shaking right away: essential tremor. Chuck tried several different types of medications to control the symptoms—all of the medications had side-effects, but none offered long-term relief while the tremor severity continued to progress.
Chuck originally considered Deep Brain Stimulation for relief. This surgical treatment implants electrodes into the brain to control the tremor. But, while he was being evaluated for the surgery, he discovered the clinical trials for MRgFUS. Instead of undergoing Deep Brain Stimulation, he signed up for a study at the University of Maryland.
Before the study, he was asked to draw a spiral to gauge the severity of his tremor. By this time, his tremor was severe enough that he couldn’t even hold his pen to paper to write. But after treatment, he tried again—his spiral showed a small shake, but he could hold his pen to paper without issue. Now, three years after treatment, he feels as though he’s still over 90 percent steadier than he used to be. He notices that his hands may shake a little more if he’s tired, but nowhere near what they once were.
Want to hear more about Chuck’s experiences with seeking treatment for essential tremor? You can listen to him share his story on this episode of Tremor Chats. If you or a loved one are currently experiencing essential tremor, the Essential Tremor Education Center is here to support you in finding potential treatment options. You can speak to our educators today by calling 844-NO-TREMOR.