Morrie's Story

Living with Essential Tremor

Morrie, essential tremor patient

Morrie, essential tremor patient

For more than 10 years, Morrie lived with the frustrations of essential tremor. His hand shook uncontrollably, and daily tasks like shaving, eating, and drinking were difficult.

Morrie gave up his favorite pastimes, including golf, woodworking, and bridge. Writing became impossible. The embarrassment of his symptoms kept Morrie home most days. His medications helped somewhat, but eventually they became ineffective. They also caused unpleasant side effects.

How DBS Helped Morrie

In 1996 Morrie was referred to a movement disorders neurologist who introduced him to Medtronic Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Therapy for Essential Tremor. DBS uses a surgically implanted medical device much like a cardiac pacemaker to deliver minute electrical stimulation to precisely targeted areas within the brain. The stimulation is delivered through a medical wire called a lead, which is tunnelled beneath the skin.

Stimulation of these areas blocks the signals that cause the disabling motor symptoms of essential tremor. The electrical stimulation can be non-invasively adjusted to maximise treatment benefits. As a result, individuals like Morrie achieve greater control over their body movements.1

Risks of the Procedure and Stimulation

Risks of DBS Therapy can include risks of surgery, side effects, or device complications. Implanting the neurostimulator system carries the same risks associated with any other brain surgery. Morrie feels a slight tingling when he turns his neurostimulator on, but says it's not bothersome.

"I feel like I'm as good as I can be."

Since receiving his DBS Therapy implant, Morrie says he feels tremendous. "I can get my own coffee and drink it without spilling, carry a tray, and eat without help from my wife," he says. "I can play golf – even putt, play bridge, hold the newspaper while reading it, and handle small tools well enough to repair a lamp."

With his tremor under control, Morrie is able to attend parties and dinners without feeling self-conscious. He takes pride in writing out annual Christmas checks for his children. "My writing is 98 percent better," says Morrie. "I feel like I'm as good as I can be."


  1. Activa Therapy Clinical Summary, 2003.

This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

Last updated: 22 Sep 2010

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