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Essential tremor patient regains independence following surgery
Date:3/26/2012

ustrated or embarrassed to go out in public because of their tremor."

The disorder can be treated with medications, but many do not adequately control the tremor or cause negative side effects that outweigh the benefit. Patients are encouraged to eliminate any stimuli that increase their tremor, such as caffeine or life stress. When those treatments fail, deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery is an option for some patients.

"Essential tremor is a vastly undertreated disorder, but DBS is tremendously effective, often much more so than medications," explained Rosenow. "DBS involves implanting small electrodes into very specific region deep in the brain to deliver continuous high frequency electrical impulses. Each electrode is connected to an extension wire that runs under the skin down to the chest where a battery pack is implanted. This pack acts as a 'pacemaker' for the brain and helps control the tremor."

After medication failed to control his tremor, Rogers made the decision to have DBS surgery. "It got to the point where I couldn't even sign my own name with my left hand and it was beginning to affect my right hand as well," said Rogers. "I knew if I ignored it, eventually I wouldn't be able to function on my own."

During DBS, the surgeon first plans the surgery by mapping out the best path for the electrode using detailed 3-D images of the brain. The patient is awake for part of the surgery and becomes a key member of the team as they map out the correct location for the electrode. Local anesthetic is given so that no discomfort is felt.

"The surgeon and neurophysiologist determine the exact placement for the electrode by listening to the nerve cell signals, which have a unique pattern in each area of the brain," said Rosenow, who performed Rogers' DBS surgery. "The patient's legs and arms are moved to see what effect the electrode is having and the patient is also asked to speak, look around and relate if there is
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Contact: Megan McCann
memccann@nmh.org
312-926-5900
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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