- Published on 29 June 2011
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (June 29, 2011) - The last ten years have been challenging for Billy R. Williams of Fort Valley, Virginia. The former Pentagon employee, who survived the 9/11 terrorist attack, has suffered from essential tremor, a progressive and debilitating neurological disorder.
Medications controlled his tremor for a while, but eventually the shaking became so severe that Williams found it impossible to do anything with his dominant right hand. He was unable to button his shirt, eat without spilling or fill in a crossword puzzle. An avid golfer, he even needed help teeing up his ball.
Referred to the University of Virginia for evaluation, he learned about various treatment options and ultimately agreed to participate in a new clinical trial. Funded by the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation, the study is assessing the safety and initial efficacy of MR-guided focused ultrasound as a treatment for essential tremor.
In February 2011, Williams became the first essential tremor patient in the world to receive MR-guided focused ultrasound therapy, and the results were dramatically positive. He has now completed the three-month study and remains pleased with the results.
A noninvasive therapy, MR-guided focused ultrasound allowed clinicians to precisely treat a small spot in Williams’ thalamus – a region deep within the brain known to be an effective target for treating essential tremor and other movement disorders. No incisions were made, and Williams received no anesthesia. He remained awake and alert throughout the deep brain procedure and, at its conclusion, stood up and walked out of the treatment suite.
Click here to view the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation’s exclusive closed captioned video interview with Billy R. Williams.
Click here to read the Foundation’s newsletter coverage of the Essential Tremor study and to view a video interview with its lead investigator, neurosurgeon W. Jeffrey Elias, MD.
Click here to read overview of MR-guided focused ultrasound for essential tremor
About the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation
Driven by the desire to save lives, alleviate suffering and prevent disability, the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation is devoted to advancing one of modern medicine’s most promising and game-changing technologies: noninvasive magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound (FUS).
Founded in 2006 and based in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Foundation is a high-performance, not-for-profit organization with global reach and an entrepreneurial spirit. To accelerate the availability and reimbursement of FUS treatments, we host symposia and workshops, fund research and fellowships, support the establishment of FUS Centers of Excellence, promote patient awareness and education, and serve as the nexus of a collaborative research network consisting of sites and investigators around the world. Our work is made possible by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. For complete information, visit www.fusfoundation.org.
Ellen C. McKenna