WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute restores quality of life for essential tremor patient

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –Tim Casey, 70, of Charleston, has struggled for 20 years with essential tremor (ET), which caused him to lose control over movement in his hands, drastically reducing his quality of life. But his life fundamentally improved after he became the 100th recipient of the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute’s (RNI) high-intensity focused ultrasound treatment.

“I can now write cursive for the first time in decades and eat a bowl of soup in public without wearing soup on my shirt,” Casey wrote in a letter to Ali Rezai, M.D., executive chair of the RNI. “When something is lost, seemingly forever, and then is restored, the term ‘miraculous’ best describes what has happened. Please know that as I experience many things I can now do, I will be giving thanks to this miracle.”

The treatment, which was granted FDA approval in 2017, uses non-invasive, MRI-guided technology to minimize the symptoms of ET, yielding life-changing results for patients.

According to Ann Murray, M.D.neurologist at the RNI, focused ultrasound via MRI technologies can treat ET in an efficient, targeted manner with minimal side effects.

“In focused ultrasound, a lesion is made in the area that triggers the tremor, causing it to calm down. The results are immediate, resulting in an instantaneous improvement in the patient’s quality of life,” Dr. Murray said.

Murray added that while focused ultrasound has been available to treat tremor on one side, bilateral focused ultrasound has recently been approved by the FDA, allowing treatment of the other side of the body nine months after the first.

The team at the RNI was the first in the region to employ the use of focused ultrasound for the treatment of essential tremor and is committed to the research of neurological diseases and the use of technology to propel medical advancements.

“Focused ultrasound is a two-hour outpatient procedure that reduces tremors and improves quality of life,” Dr. Rezai said. “This is a major technological innovation and a step forward to help people with tremor using a non-surgical procedure.”

Watch Tim Casey’s personal story and essential tremor treatment.

For more information on the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, visit WVUMedicine.org/RNI.

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