We are living in the future. Imagine living with muscle tremors and being treated with a machine that uses ultrasound beams to treat and improve your condition in just a few hours.
About 5% of people over the age of fifty are affected by movement disorders in the U.S.
Essential Tremors are a common diagnosis among them, where involuntary muscle spasms start interfering with people’s daily lives and ability to do simple tasks like writing, driving, and even drinking a glass of water.
These repetitive movements and uncontrollable muscle contractions can occur in different parts of the body ranging from excessive blinking, speech difficulties to even becoming disabled, as they often get progressively worse.
Technology has come a long way in the treatment of these disorders, ranging from medications to more advanced treatments now available. One of these technologies is the new High Frequency Ultrasound (HiFu).
The new Insightec System at Miami Neuroscience Institute
These advanced machines are really systems that work together, and each component assists in delivering a cohesive and effective treatment. The Magnetic Resonance Imaging that you probably know as MRI, uses magnets and radio waves to see inside the brain and gives doctors the visibility and real time insights they need to monitor the treatment location and even the temperature of the tissue being treated. All this is combined with the helmet-shaped transducer, which focuses the ultrasound beams to the specific point set by the doctor. The doctors then target the area of the brain producing the tremors with the ultrasound waves.
Since this procedure is non-invasive, there are no incisions and it doesn’t even require anesthesia. It’s usually performed as an outpatient procedure and tangible improvements in tremors can be observed even after a single treatment, depending of course on the severity of the case. Each treatment is specifically catered to the patient’s condition and even the smallest details are taken into account such as the individual thickness of the skull.
How does HiFu technology work?
Ultrasonic waves, similar to the ones used to see babies in mom’s tummies get combined and concentrated in the targeted area of the brain for the treatment. These invisible sonic beams, up to 1024 of them, can be focused into a specific area of the brain where the beams converge with sub-millimetric accuracy. That’s pretty amazing.
Thanks to technological advances, these treatments can improve the lives of people living with Essential Tremors and thanks to advanced imaging, precision targeting, and ultrasound technology, patients of Miami Neuroscience Institute now have this amazing treatment at their disposal.