Wisconsin Mom Receives Focused Ultrasound Treatment for Essential Tremor


Jodi has always devoted her life to helping others. Whether it’s her twin 11-year-old sons and 10 year-old daughter, or a stranger in need, Jodi is there to help when the call comes. For most of her adult life, Jodi has worked at a 911 safety communications center in Wisconsin. “It is very rewarding. I love helping individuals every day, when they need help the most,” Jodi says of her vocation.

All this responsibility leaves Jodi precious little time to care for herself. But, since the age of 15 (she’s 33 now), Jodi has suffered from essential tremor. Essential tremor (ET) is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary, rhythmic shaking. It is the most common movement disorder, affecting as many as 10 million Americans. The associated disabling aspects of ET – such as significant tremor of the hands – can impair patients’ ability to eat, shave, write, perform household activities, and function in the workplace.

For years, Jodi looked for ways to manage her progressing tremors. She found that most medications were not effective, or they caused debilitating side effects. She remembers, “Some medications would work for a while, but I felt foggy. Not there.” As a single mother, she was unwilling to accept the risks associated with deep brain stimulation. Her options seemed to be running out.

Jodi recalls, “I went to this neurologist and asked, ‘What can I do about this?’ He basically just looked at me and said, ‘Everyone shakes. You’re just going to have to learn to deal with it.’ And I said, ‘Uh-uh. I’m done.’”

Smart and determined, Jodi refused to give up. Her search eventually led her to discover that focused ultrasound had been approved by the FDA as a treatment for ET. (In fact, she found out because she was a subscriber to the Foundation’s email list.) In April of 2018, Jodi flew from Wisconsin to Sperling Medical Group in Delray Beach, Florida (one of thirteen treatment centers in the US) to receive focused ultrasound treatment for her essential tremor.

Jodi’s treatment targeted the tremor in her right hand, her dominant side. It was successful, though her recovery took some time. Not long after returning home to Wisconsin, Jodi even participated in an awareness and fundraising event to help people in her community understand the importance of focused ultrasound technology, not just for her and not just for ET, but for people around the US with conditions such as Parkinson’s, prostate cancer, and brain tumors.

Jodi has always been a private person, but she agreed to share her experience and to be an advocate on behalf of essential tremor patients everywhere, because she thinks it’s important for people to know about focused ultrasound. Jodi said, “I hope my story is able to give comfort and hope to those who continue to struggle. I want to help people feel that they’re not alone.”

When asked out how life is different since the focused ultrasound procedure, Jodi said, “I am able to cuddle my children now. I can French braid by daughter’s hair and help put her makeup on for cheerleading competitions. Everything from putting on nail polish to pouring a glass of milk is so much easier.”

Determined and independent as ever, Jodi now advocates for the day that bilateral treatment for essential tremor will become approved and available.