Marvin Cowden has been enjoying many hobbies during his retirement in the Dallas area. Whether it is modifying cars from the 1950s to driving super-fast or flying drones, he keeps himself busy with hands-on activities. Unfortunately, his ability to do the things he loves has been limited by a hand tremor.
He first became aware of his condition while in his 40’s. An especially memorable story related to the obstacles he has faced occurred while working as a systems analyst for a major bank. He was in a company meeting, and he was taking notes. However, he realized he couldn’t read his own handwriting.
Marvin went to his family physician and was diagnosed with essential tremor (ET). For almost 15 years he has had trouble doing many things that prevents him from being independent. It was often simple things that bothered him most, such as eating with both a knife and a fork or writing his name on forms.
He was on medication for a long time, but it made him feel like a “zombie.” He started looking for another method to treat his ET. One day when he was searching online he found information about Neuravive on a YouTube channel. Neuravive is incisionless procedure that uses focused ultrasound to treat ET. He was very excited to learn about this treatment option and contacted Insightec to learn more.
Once he understood what the treatment was–and information about its safety, effectiveness, and risks–he decided to have the procedure. In January 2019, he traveled to Nebraska with his wife, his sister, and his son. It was somewhat of a fact-finding mission too because ET runs in his family. In fact, his father had a tremor in his later years, though it was less severe.
On the day of the procedure, Marvin was anxious. He had struggled with claustrophobia and focused ultrasound treatment requires you to lie on a treatment bed that moves in and out of an MRI scanner over several hours. However, the medical team put him at ease as the halo (or frame) was placed on his head.
The process of placing the halo involves injection of a local anesthetic on four spots on the patient’s head. In Marvin’s case, one of the spots on his head where the lidocaine was applied did not take, and he was in severe pain, but luckily only for a few minutes. After this part of the procedure was finished, he did not experience any significant pain.
Next, he lay down on a table in the MRI room so that the halo could be locked in. This is to make sure that the patient’s head does not move during the focused ultrasound treatment. Marvin recalls going through a series of about six cycles where the treating physician targeted the ultrasound waves to a small spot to create a small burn inside the part of the brain that causes tremor. After each cycle, the physician had him hold a bottle of water as if he were drinking, and he could see the tremor improvement during the treatment.
Marvin explains that he had some side effects, but he was fully recovered within one month. Driving in a car made him feel nauseous for the first few days, and he had a small 2nd degree burn on his forehead. This was caused by a tiny air bubble that may happen if there is a fold in the membrane that that is placed on the patient’s head to create a seal with the focused ultrasound helmet. On days three through five after the treatment, he was exhausted and his sense of taste was dulled. He experienced slight heaviness on his right side, occasionally dragged his right foot and bumped into things. Fortunately, the treating physician explained that these side effects may occur and should resolve themselves.
Marvin looks back on the experience and believes it has been life changing. He is optimistic about a future where he can tune the carburetor and rev up the engine without ET getting in the way!
This testimonial may not be representative of all treatment outcomes.
For additional information about focused ultrasound for essential tremor, including safety information, please click here.