When Carol Klein arrived at the Miami Neuroscience Institute of Baptist Health, she was ready for a change. “The essential tremor had put a damper on my life because I couldn’t do many things,” Carol explained. A moving new documentary portrays Carol’s life with essential tremor and how focused ultrasound treatment got her back to living…and baking with her husband, Richard.
Simple tasks can be taken for granted by all of us who are healthy and do not live with chronic medical conditions. Carol is one of the estimated 10 million Americans and millions more worldwide who live with essential tremor. This movement disorder may be mild or it can interfere with nearly every aspect of day-to-day life. Carol could no longer enjoy a hot cup of coffee, eat soup or measure ingredients to bake as her tremoring hand caused her to spill everything. This was not the life she had planned for herself.
A lifelong schoolteacher, Carol set out to learn about potential treatments for her essential tremor. Google searches led her to focused ultrasound, where sound waves are guided by MRI to treat the small spot considered to be responsible for tremor. The result for many patients is immediate tremor relief in the treated hand. While it is a surgical procedure, it seemed less invasive as there are no incisions and usually no hospitalization. While she read that many of the potential complications could be temporary, there was data showing that there could be numbness/tingling, imbalance and problems walking for a longer period.
As Carol learned more about the risks and benefits of the procedure, she decided, “If this can help my tremor, I will do it. I will do it.”
On the day of her focused ultrasound treatment, neurosurgeon Dr. Lloyd Zucker had Carol draw lines on a piece of paper to assess Carol’s hand tremor before treatment. Throughout the procedure, which on average takes 2.5 hours, Dr. Zucker evaluated her progress by having Carol do different tasks, such as drawing lines and holding out her arm. He also asked her about any sensations as there can be side effects. By the final test, Carol was able to draw straight and steady lines.
“It never gets old when you see somebody who’s been shaking for years looking at their hand like it literally belongs to somebody else,” Zucker reflects.
After her treatment, Carol excitedly showed off her newly steady hand to the hospital staff and her husband. Three months later, activities that Carol previously struggled with have become second nature. She’s taken up baking again as she can now precisely measure and pour ingredients.
She’s excited to have the opportunity to live the life she wanted for herself and is sharing the story how focused ultrasound changed her life, which you can view below. Wait for the chocolatey frosting recipe at the end…
Carol’s testimonial may not be representative of all treatment outcomes. For additional information about focused ultrasound for essential tremor, including safety information, please click here.