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New brain implant helps local man manage essential tremor

Local neurosurgeons are among the first in the county to use a new type of pacemaker for the brain. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Local neurosurgeons are among the first in the county to use a new type of pacemaker for the brain.

For the first time, a team at Mayfield Brain and Spine are implanting this brain pacemaker system to calm what's referred to as essential tremor. It's remote-controlled from outside the body, and Local 12's Liz Bonis got to take a look at how it works.

By the time Steve Hoffman was referred to Dr. George Mandybur's team, his tremors were so bad he could barely use his hands--a big problem because Hoffman was still working and needed his hands.

So after attempting other therapies, Dr. Mandybur's team suggested Hoffman may benefit from a system implanted in his brain.

"It's a deep brain stimulator--a new one by St. Jude Medical," said Dr. Mandybur. The system was acquired by Abbott in 2017.

The stimulator is an electrical device similar to a pacemaker, placed inside the brain to control tremors. This newer Infinity Deep Brain Stimulation System is put in with a newer procedure where the patient is awake. It allows a surgeon to steer electrical currents to areas of the brain to stop essential tremors like Hoffman's.

"When the electrode is turned on, we want to see the tremor stop," said Dr. Mandybur.

So along with the team, he made the decision to move forward with a newer procedure and newer technology, and now they let us share the results:

Hoffman's hand used to shake and is now almost totally stable. And where he used to struggle signing his name, he can now do it with ease--simple steps he says in which there are no words to properly say thanks.

"It means a lot; it's going to change the way my life works, 'cause I can use my hands, and just how do you thank somebody like that?" said Hoffman.

This system is low risk for complications, such as tingling or slurred speech. A remote compatible to a cell phone allows Steve to adjust the device.

Click here for more information.

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