Neurologist and Neurosurgeon to Present Community Seminar on Essential Tremor at Cedars-Sinai Nov. 9

The disorder may affect 10 million people in the US but many are undiagnosed or unaware that treatment is available

Los Angeles - Oct. 31, 2013 – Ten million people in the U.S. are affected by a medical condition called essential tremor – rhythmic trembling of the hands, head, voice, legs or trunk. The disorder is eight times more common than Parkinson's disease, but many people fail to seek treatment, either because they have not been diagnosed or they erroneously believe no help is available.

Michele Tagliati, MD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Movement Disorders Program in the Department of Neurology, and Adam Mamelak, MD, director of the Functional Neurosurgery Program in the Department of Neurosurgery, will present a free community seminar to describe the condition and discuss diagnostic procedures, the latest research and treatments that can restore calm to patients' lives.

"Learning about Essential Tremor," which will be from 8:45 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, will be co-sponsored by the International Essential Tremor Foundation and facilitated by Catherine Rice, the organization’s executive director.

Tagliati, a neurologist whose movement disorders expertise spans 15 years, said several treatment options exist. Medications - usually the first choice – can be effective, although benefits may decrease over time and some side effects may be bothersome. If treatments fail or cannot be tolerated, patients may consider deep brain stimulation therapy, which calms overactive muscles at the source, an area of the brain producing aberrant electrical signals.

Deep brain stimulation is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, some treatment-resistant dystonias – which can cause crippling, sustained muscle contractions – and certain cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Electrical stimulation leads are implanted deep in the brain and connected to a generator, similar to a heart pacemaker, which is placed under the skin near the collarbone. A handheld remote is used to program the device.

"Optimal results depend on precise lead placement and careful attention to programming, which are best accomplished by an experienced neurosurgeon working in concert with an experienced neurologist," said Tagliati, who leads an educational course on device programming every year at the American Academy of Neurology meetings.

Mamelak, a neurosurgeon, has implanted the stimulation devices since they were approved by the FDA in the mid-1990s; he performed other deep brain procedures before that.

"We work together very closely, discussing the implants, weighing other treatment options and keeping patients involved with both of us. Essential tremor patients tend to have absolutely dramatic responses to DBS therapy," Mamelak said.

"Learning about Essential Tremor" will be in Pavilion Education Center Rooms 6 and 7 at Cedars-Sinai's Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion, Plaza Level, 127 S. San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles. The seminar is free but preregistration is required by Nov. 2. To sign up, contact the International Essential Tremor Foundation at 888-387-3667 or www.essentialtremor.org/seminars.  

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