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Investigating Focused Ultrasound: A Possible Parkinson’s Disease Treatment?

Cooking, eating, tying shoes and writing are all skills most adults take for granted.

But for someone with Parkinson’s disease, they may be impossible. The involuntary shaking and other movement problems can force Parkinson’s patients to rely on caregivers for even the simplest tasks.

Researchers at UVA will try to change this for 30 clinical trial participants by using focused ultrasound, a non-invasive technique that sends beams of ultrasound energy to one side of the brain. Currently, the leading surgical option for treating Parkinson’s is deep brain stimulation, which requires drilling holes in the skull and implanting a pacemaker system in the brain.

Researchers have already tested focused ultrasound on 15 people with essential tremor, and “they got a similar degree of tremor control that we see with other surgical procedures like deep brain stimulation,” Jeff Elias, MD, the trial’s principal investigator, says in a news release.

One patient told ABC News that her tremors stopped as soon as the four-hour procedure was over.

Right now, the only way to get this treatment for movement disorders is through a clinical trial. The Food & Drug Administration has approved focused ultrasound to treat uterine fibroids.

Do you have Parkinson’s disease? Researchers can only enroll very small groups in clinical trials, but you can:

Learn more about focused ultrasound:

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