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$1.4 M boost in funding for patients with essential tremor to be treated with focused ultrasound

July 15, 2019

Dr. Smith, Minister Elliott and Dr, Lipsman

The Honourable Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, announced an investment of $1.4 million in funding for patients with essential tremor to receive non-invasive focused ultrasound treatment.

Essential tremor is a debilitating condition that causes uncontrollable shaking in any part of the body but most often affects a person's hands and arms. Patients with essential tremor have difficulty with everyday tasks such as drinking a glass of water or with feeding themselves.

Focused ultrasound is a non-invasive, imaged-guided procedure that targets specific areas of the brain in essential tremor using high frequency sound waves.

Sunnybrook researchers pioneered the use of MRI-guided focused ultrasound to treat patients with essential tremor in 2012, which led to its approval by Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment and management of essential tremor.

The funding will allow for the focused ultrasound treatment of 72 more patients. MRI-guided focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor is currently offered at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and University Health Network.

"Focused ultrasound is the new frontier of medicine. Replacing scalpels with sound waves is revolutionary for the field and more importantly is an incredible advance in the quality of care for patients. This will minimize hospital stays, reduce infections, and give people a new sense of hope,” said Dr. Andy Smith, President and CEO, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. "We would like to thank the Ontario government for this important investment in this game-changing technology.”

Sunnybrook has treated 130 patients with essential tremor using focused ultrasound since 2012.

"The impact on patients’ lives can be dramatic,” says Dr. Nir Lipsman, Director of the Harquail Centre for Neurdomodulation at Sunnybrook. “Focused ultrasound has been shown to significantly improve tremor symptoms in many patients who are treatment resistant, and help them to do everyday activities with more ease. Focused ultrasound does not require incisions and is able to target areas deep inside the brain. This innovation is helping to improve the lives of patients with essential tremor and other disorders.”

Learn more about focused ultrasound and treatment for essential tremor »

Media contact:
Jennifer Palisoc
Sunnybrook Communications & Stakeholder Relations