London, ON - For patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, writing a grocery list or taking a drink from a cup can be a daily struggle due to disabling arm tremor. Now, technology developed in London provides a personalized therapy that is giving new hope for these patients.
The technology, under the tradename TremorTek, uses a combination of wearable movement sensors and computer software to determine exactly which muscles and what biomechanics are at play for each individual patient’s tremor symptoms. Using the information from that technology, clinicians can precisely place injections to reduce tremor at the exact source.
Developed by a research team led by Dr. Mandar Jog, Professor in the Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, and a scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute, the technology is showing exceptional promise in clinical trials for both essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease tremor.
Over the course of 38 weeks, the severity of the tremor was significantly reduced and eating, drinking and working performance was improved. The results of the studies were recently published in the journals PLoS One and in Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements Journal.
“Very few clinicians inject for tremor because before now, it just didn’t work. The injections would only cause weakness,” said Dr. Jog. “We realize now that was because they didn’t know where to inject. The uniqueness of our development is the simplicity of it. It records from multiple joints in a straightforward way.”
39 year-old Michael Dietrich was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease six years ago and tremors in his right arm have prevented him from doing things like brushing his teeth and using the computer, limiting his ability to do his job as a kitchen designer. After becoming involved in the study, Dietrich says the technology has dramatically changed his quality of life. “It has been life-altering. The tremor affected my ability to do everyday tasks,” he said. “Being involved in the trial with the sensor-guided injections means that now I can do most functions that I used to do. I have seen a marked difference.”
Western University. Western delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community.
The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University is one of Canada’s preeminent medical and dental schools. Established in 1881, it was one of the founding schools of Western University and is known for being the birthplace of family medicine in Canada. For more than 130 years, the School has demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence and a passion for scientific discovery.
Lawson Health Research Institute. As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London, and working in partnership with Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance health care around the world. www.lawsonresearch.ca
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Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University
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Lawson Health Research Institute
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