Patient Spotlight: Doris Lacks

Patients with essential tremor naturally want relief from their shaking hands. These tremors can complicate day-to-day tasks such as drinking and writing. Essential tremor treatments can offer relief to those whose lives are being significantly impacted by their tremor. Today, the Essential Tremor Education Center would like to share the story of Doris Lacks, who recently utilized the Neuravive procedure, which uses MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS).

Doris Lacks first realized she had a tremor 35 years ago. She first noticed something was wrong during her job as a college secretary—her hand shook, and she couldn’t write the number three. The tremor kept progressing until it became nearly impossible to do basic tasks. Not only did she experience hand tremor, but also the tremors affected her voice. She demonstrated how difficult it was for her to draw a spiral and even drink a glass of water without dropping the cup. Along with her tremor came emotional stress. Lacks says, “I feel conscious that people are watching me when I’m in public. I can’t eat without spilling things. I don’t want to eat in public.”

She pursued MRgFUS after hearing that she would be able to write and turn pages in a book after the procedure. Dr. Travis Tierney, the Director of Neurosurgery at the Sperling Medical Group, performed the procedure. He describes the patient’s experience during MRgFUS simply. Patients arrive in the morning and are taken to the MRI scanner, then spend the following two hours on their back while focused ultrasound is used to lesion the area of the brain causing the tremor. Patient comfort is a priority: “We have some ways to help you by keeping you warm, keeping you comfortable. We can give medications to make it more of a comfortable day but generally patients are happy to get out of the MRI and see how their tremor control is.”

One day later, Lacks is happy to hold up her hand and, with a steady voice, show how her hand no longer shakes. She says that her treatment is “Amazing. Miraculous. I feel like it’s changed my life. I can do all kinds of things now that I could not do before. It feels so good.” She shows her improvement by drawing a steady spiral and proudly drinking a glass of water without spilling a single drop.

If you’d like to see Lacks’ story first-hand, you can watch her before and after comparisons on YouTube here. If you or a loved one are experiencing tremors and would like to learn more about essential tremor treatment, the educators at the Essential Tremor Education Center are here to help you learn about options that are available. You can speak to an educator by calling 844-NO-TREMOR today.