Nan of four ‘regained her life’ after spilling tea
A nan-of-four ‘got her life back’ after struggling to write and wear mugs for years due to an incurable illness.
Maureen Greenough, 65, didn’t give it a second thought when “a little twitch” in her hand started several years ago. But she feared she had Parkinson’s disease and sought medical help after the tremor gradually worsened, spreading down her right side and down her leg.
The St Helens rugby league fan said: “It was embarrassing because if I wanted a cup of tea I had to hold it with both hands. I couldn’t carry a cup of tea from the kitchen to the living room without holding on with both hands, and even then I still spilled a little. If I went out anywhere, people wouldn’t look at me, but I was aware of it. It’s not a pleasant feeling.
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The former nursing assistant is one of more than a million people in the UK with essential tremor, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable shaking or shaking in any part of the body, including the hands and head . Around a quarter of people with the condition are severely disabled by their tremors, according to the Walton Centre, a specialist neurology and neurosurgery hospital in Liverpool, to which Maureen’s GP referred her.
At first the treatment options were drugs or surgery, but the drugs wore off and brain surgery would have been invasive. That changed in March when Maureen became the first Walton Center patient to undergo “state-of-the-art treatment” for essential tremor.
The NHS trust won a contract to provide the new service late last year, making it the first center in the north of England, and the second in the country, to offer incision-free treatment for the sickness.
The treatment, known as focused ultrasound – or transcranial MRI-guided focused ultrasound – uses high-frequency sound waves to deliver energy packets to the brain. Guided by MRI images, the “innovative technology” focuses these sound waves at a point deep within the brain, generating heat and causing “highly targeted thermal damage” that improves tremors.
Maureen noticed the effects straight away, saying: “I couldn’t believe how immediate the change was. As soon as I left the treatment room I noticed that my right hand had stopped shaking, it was like the Walton Center team had flipped a switch!”
She said it made her “emotional” because she wasn’t sure it would work, but for now patients eligible for focused ultrasound treatment are only getting one round of it to reduce tremors on one side of the body, with “tremor relief maintained at three years,” according to The Walton Center.
This means that Maureen still has a slight twitch in her left hand, but overall her condition “has changed”. She can safely carry tea and she can’t wait to lift a gin and tonic with her right hand at her nephew’s wedding in August without fear of spillage. Maureen said: “It’s just amazing, and the doctors have been absolutely brilliant with me. I got my life back.”
Walton Center Medical Director Dr. Andrew Nicolson said, “We consider this treatment a game-changer for our patients with essential tremor. Eligible people will be able to benefit from the treatment and see their symptoms on one side of their body disappear. to achieve this effect in movement disorders would require much more invasive surgery. It has been an incredible team effort and today’s first treatment marks the start of an invaluable service we can provide to our patients.
Dr. Jibril Osman Farah, consultant neurosurgeon and one of the lead clinicians in this project, hopes that the waiting list can be significantly reduced now that the Walton Center can offer the treatment. He said: “Patients from the north of England who are waiting for this treatment can now come here to Liverpool, rather than having to wait for treatment in London, which can be difficult to access. The ultrasound Focused is a revolutionary treatment for patients with Essential Tremor.
“To test the effectiveness of the treatment, we ask patients to draw spirals before, during and after, and the results are so striking. Before it was a scribble, and after it is a clear spiral, the tremors are considerably I am so proud of the team and how we have come together to bring this treatment to patients here at the Walton Center.”
The innovative technology was developed and implemented by Insightec, who worked closely with the Walton Center to bring this new treatment to patients in the North of England. Maurice R. Ferré MD, Insightec CEO and Chairman of the Board, said, “We are deeply committed to continuing to transform patient care through innovative, minimally invasive surgical procedures. The Exablate System will help improve the quality of life for those diagnosed. and live with essential tremor.”
For more information on focused ultrasound, visit the Walton Center website: https://www.thewaltoncentre.nhs.uk/departments-and-services/focused-ultrasound/604532