Focused ultrasound promising for treatment of Parkinson’s tremor

People with tremor-dominant Parkinson’s took part in a pilot study where twenty people were selected at random to be treated with focused ultrasound waves on their brains.

The study was uThe technology works by focusing sound waves inside the body and generating a ‘hot spot’. By controlling the process, scientists can interrupt faulty brain circuits or destroy unwanted tissue. Using MRI technology, the researchers were able to carefully monitor the location and intensity of the procedure in real time.

Twenty-seven people participated in the study, with twenty having the treatment and seven having a placebo treatment. The study saw a 62% median improvement in patients’ tremors in those who had undertaken the ultrasound procedure. Those who were given the placebo treatment were later offered the opportunity to have the real procedure. The control group also experienced improvement, but to a lesser degree – suggesting some sort of placebo effect.

Researchers believe there is a larger, multicentred study required to understand the full potential of focused ultrasound in treating Parkinson’s tremor.

Commenting on the findings, Binit Shah, researcher at University of Virginia, said:

"Our findings suggest that the patients likely to benefit from this approach are those for whom tremor reduction is enough to improve their quality of life,"

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