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68-year-old woman eats food without spilling and shaking hands after 3 years with the help of Deep Brain Stimulation Procedure

The patient suffered from a severe form of a common neurological condition called Essential Tremor (ET)

Mumbai: A team headed Dr Pankaj Agarwal, Movement Disorders Neurologist and Dr Naren Nayak, Functional Neurosurgeon at Global Hospital, Mumbai successfully treated a 68-year-old woman with severe Essential Tremor (ET), a neurological condition that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking (tremor) of the hands, head and voice. She underwent DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation), a surgical procedure involving electrical stimulation of certain brain cells that control tremor. 

Mrs Sulabha Tele, a housewife from Pune was suffering from very severe hand tremor for 8 years. She had violent shaking of her hands whenever she tried to pick up an object. Over the last few years, she was slowly unable to do her daily routine activities like eating, drinking, holding an object by herself. As a result, she became dependent on her family members to feed her. The family met several neurologists, and treatment with a combination of medicines prescribed resulted in only minimal and temporary relief of her hand tremors. 

Dr Pankaj Agarwal, Senior Consultant - Neurology, Head - Movement Disorders Clinic and In charge - DBS program, Global Hospital, Mumbai, said, “This patient had a severe form of Essential Tremor (ET). ET is a common neurological condition that causes uncontrollable shaking of both their hands and also the head and voice. Its onset is usually after the age of 60, but it can occur at a younger age as well. Its cause is unknown but involves abnormal rhythmic oscillatory activity in certain brain networks that control movement.” 

“Although ET closely resembles Parkinson’s disease (PD), unlike in PD, the tremor in ET most often occurs on activity (rather than when the hands are resting) and therefore interferes with daily activities typically holding a cup, or pouring liquids, or writing. Medicines can help patients with ET to an extent. But they may be ineffective in few patients like her. Given the severe, intractable and extremely disabling nature of her tremor, she was offered thalamic Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)” explained Dr Agarwal.

DBS of certain brain regions, such as the VIM nucleus of thalamus is very effective for ET, and DBS is the most commonly performed surgical treatment for ET. In this, thin metal wires are placed in the brain; these wires send electrical pulses to the brain to help control some motor symptoms. It works best to lessen motor symptoms of stiffness, slowness, and tremor. She underwent the 4-hour long awake surgery. During the surgery, doctors asked her to mimic using a spoon and write with a pen on the operating table, and saw immediate relief of hand shaking as the wire was carefully placed in the brain target.”

“The patient had immediate and complete relief from tremor. The next day after surgery, she was able to eat the first morsel of food with her own hands, and drink water without spilling, and shaking, after 3 years. DBS can be life-changing for tremor, with even complete relief possible in some cases like this one.” Said Dr Agarwal.

Mrs. Sulabha Tele, the patient said, “For the last 4 years, I was completely dependent on my family which bothered me a lot. But DBS treatment provided by Global Hospital is like a boon as I can eat, drink, use my hands to do all my daily activities, and even cook for my 25-year old son myself after 4 long years, and. Now I can live my life the way I had dreamt of. It is indeed a new life for me.”

Dr Vivek Talaulikar, Chief Executive Officer, Global Hospital, Mumbai, underscored, “We offer a comprehensive assessment, and therapy for patients with neurological disorders according to the individual’s requirement. Regular follow-ups are offered to the patients to monitor their progress. Till date, the Parkinson’s disease and Movement disorders clinic at Global Hospital has treated more than 8000 patients over the last 8 years. We are dedicated to provide the best healthcare services to the patients to overcome their complex health issues, and we strive hard to do so. The expertise and cutting-edge technology at the hospital enables the patient to improve their quality of life.”

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