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Neuroscience (SNI) Blog

'treatment' Neuroscience (SNI) posts

Treatment options for hemifacial spasm

Hemifacial spasm is the involuntary contractions of the muscles of the face, those innervated by the facial nerve (VII). The facial spasms are intermittent and occur on one side of the face only. Hemifacial spasm can involve the upper or lower half of the face and may progress to involve the entire half of the face. The intensity and frequency of these symptoms can increase over time and can persist even during sleep. Hemifacial spasm can be associated with vestibular dysfunction and cochlear dysfunction.
 
Hemifacial spasm is usually more common in women. The most common cause of hemifacial spasm is ...

January 25 essential tremor seminar

If you or someone you care about shakes a lot—it could be essential tremor (ET) or another movement disorder. Essential tremor is a disorder affecting approximately 10 million Americans. This progressive neurological condition can cause the hands, head, voice, legs or trunk of the body to shake and can cause significant disability. It is often confused with Parkinson’s disease or dystonia. Because of stereotypes and lack of awareness, many people with ET never seek medical care, though most would benefit from treatment.
 
In an upcoming event, Dr. Ryder Gwinn will explain the causes, diagnosis,  research and treatment options for essential tremor.
 
Date: Saturday, January 25
Time: Check-in 9:30am/Program 10am-Noon
Location: Bellevue Hilton, 300 112 Ave SE, Bellevue, WA
 
There is no charge for the event but please note, parking in the Bellevue Hilton lot is $5.

Registration is required - call 888-387-3667 or visit www.essentialtremor.org/seminars

 

 
 

Life-saving technology and getting the word out about radiosurgery

Twice last week I received phone calls from grateful family members thanking us for taking care of their loved ones when treatment options were dwindling. One patient is now 4 years past his CyberKnife treatment for inoperable lung cancer and is going strong and living life to the fullest. The other patient was recently treated and is feeling great and planning a European vacation. Both families are extremely appreciative for the care they received but both voiced frustration that they stumbled upon this treatment option by chance and that we need to do a better job of publicizing the radiosurgery modalities. As the person receiving these calls, I am thrilled to hear how our center has positively impacted so many lives but struggle with how to get the word out to those who may benefit from radiosurgery in the future. So with our patients’ stories fresh in my mind, here is an introduction to radiosurgery.

Stereotactic radiosurgery is targeted radiation therapy delivered to nearly any body part with precision while utilizing real time image guidance. The ....

Do you know the symptoms of a brain aneurysm?

It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day demands and ignore changes in our health. It may not be wise, however, to dismiss those changes as symptoms of a hectic life. Blurred vision, dizziness or headaches that don’t get better can signal something serious.

Anywhere from 1 to 6 percent of Americans have a brain aneurysm but don’t know it. An aneurysm is a blister-like bulge on the wall of a blood vessel. It can go unnoticed for a long time. If it’s not treated, the pressure of the blood weakens the vessel, and the aneurysm grows like a balloon filling with air. If the aneurysm bursts, it causes a stroke.

An aneurysm can put pressure on nerves or tissue in the brain, which may cause:

  • Headache or neck pain
  • Vision problems, enlarged pupil, drooping eye lid
  • Numb face
  • Severe drowsiness

If you have a brain aneurysm, your doctor may ...

How much tremor is too much?

Tremor is a normal physiologic reaction to anxiety or stress, but it is not normal to have a tremor when performing typical daily activities.

People who develop a tremor while eating, drinking, writing or doing other common activities may have a movement disorder called Essential Tremor. This is actually the most common movement disorder, and can affect up to 4% of people over age 40. People who have this disorder can take medications to help minimize the tremor, but they don't often reduce the tremor by more than about half. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an excellent treatment option for people with severe tremor, and can nearly eliminate the tremor in many patients. Many patients aren't sure when their tremor is severe enough to warrant surgery, and much of our conversation in the office is to help answer this question.

There is no one answer that is right for everyone, but for me it has to do with how well someone is actually doing in their daily life:

Swedish Contributes to New Treatment Option for Multiple Sclerosis

 On September 12, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved teriflunomide for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). Teriflunomide (AUBAGIO) is a once-daily pill for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS. Led by Dr. Lily Jung Henson, the Swedish Neuroscience Institute was among several clinical sites that tested the drug. Results of the research showed that teriflunomide can lessen MS disease activity. Specifically, it behaves similarly to injectable therapies by slowing MS relapse frequency, the rate of disability and MRI activity.

The safety profile, however, is more challenging than ....

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for Treatment of Essential Tremor

Essential tremor (ET) is the most common type of movement disorder, affecting approximate­ly four out of 1000 people, and is significantly more common, though less recognized, than Parkinson’s disease. ET affects men and women equally and is inherited as an autosomal-dominant condition in about 60 percent of cases.

Although often referred to as benign essen­tial tremor, it is hardly benign in patients who may not be able to write legibly, hold a glass of water or use a knife and fork. ET is primarily an action tremor of the upper extremities but may involve resting tremor of the head and neck and/or lower jaw, and also tremor of the voice. The latter may be so severe that speech becomes unintelligible.

Medication and surgical treatment options

Primidone and beta blockers are useful in re­ducing tremor in the early stages of ET, but as the tremor progresses, medical management often becomes less effective or side effects can prevent the use of adequate doses of medication. ET pa­tients then are candidates for surgical or radiosur­gical treatment.

The mainstay of the surgical treatment of ET is deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which an electrode is implanted in the ventral inter­mediate nucleus (VIM) of the thalamus. Neurosurgeons Peter Nora, M.D., and Ryder Gwinn, M.D., have been implant­ing DBS electrodes at Swedish Medical Center for several years. The treatment is effective, but it requires implantation of permanent hardware (wires and batteries) into the brain and chest wall. Patients who take anticoagulants or have severe cardio­vascular disease are not suitable candidates for DBS. These patients, however, may be candidates for radiosurgical treatment.

A new option for difficult-to-treat patients

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