Jerry’s tremors made it hard for him to drink or eat. Now, his hands are steady
Jerry Bliffen and his wife enjoy going to restaurants twice a week.
But his shaking hands caused by essential tremor, a brain disorder characterized by uncontrollable shaking or tremors in different parts of the body, was making it difficult to keep food on his silverware.
The 76-year-old Orange Park resident had essential tremor since he was younger, a condition shared by his father and other siblings.
He learned about a new robotic treatment for movement disorders and contacted Bradley Wallace, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon with Lyerly Neurosurgery at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville.
Dr. Wallace was the first doctor in the world to perform deep brain stimulation using a new robotic technology called Renaissance™, which enables surgeons to treat both sides of the brain in a single operation. Unlike prior types of deep brain stimulation, the patient does not need a halo-type frame to be fixated around their head.
The deep brain stimulation procedure is for people with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor.
Dr. Wallace was able to block the abnormal brain signals that caused Jerry to shake by implanting a neurostimulator near his collar bone. Much like a pacemaker controls the heart rhythm, these neurostimulators control the electrical signals in Jerry’s nervous system.
“More than anything I wanted to be more comfortable. Sometimes you don’t realize it, but people do stare,” Jerry said.
When Jerry eats and drinks water now, he doesn’t have the shakes like before. “Now I can eat ice cream all night long without spilling it,” he laughed.