A new, non-invasive procedure seems to be effective at treating the tremors brought on by Parkinson’s disease. From an interview with Dr. Wael Assad at Rhode Island Hospital:
“The procedure uses focused ultrasound energy, guided by magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. The MRI is used to target the location in the brain that’s responsible for the tremor and then an ultrasound helmet sends more than a thousand beams of energy through the patient’s skull [to thermally ablate the area] without damaging any nearby brain tissue.
The patient is awake throughout the procedure, and we evaluate (by having the patient draw or write something, for example) the tremor’s improvement throughout. The procedure takes about two to three hours. An MRI scan is done afterwards to assess the treatment.”
The entire procedure takes about 2-3 hours, and is painless. Tremors are one of the primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and they alone can force sufferers into managed care. A non-invasive treatment using equipment already in many hospitals could drastically improve the lives of tens of thousands of sufferers in the near term alone.
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