More than 7 million people in the U.S. have essential tremor, according to the American Academy of Neurology. Currently, the most common treatment for the disorder when patients don't respond to medication is deep brain stimulation, a procedure that involves incisions and insertion of electrodes or probes into the patient's brain. Ultrasound thalamotomy would offer a less invasive treatment option and remains effective for approximately three years. It does, however, cause an irreversible brain lesion.
For the study, 56 patients received ultrasound thalamotomy and 20 received a fake treatment. The research team measured hand tremors, level of disability, and quality of life at the commencement of the study and after six months, one year, two years, and three years. By the three-year mark, the researchers noted a 50% improvement in hand tremors, a 56% improvement in disability, and a 42% improvement in quality of life.
While senior author Dr. Casey Halpern of Stanford University did note some limitations of the study, he concluded that "this treatment should be considered as a safe and effective option" for those living with essential tremor.
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