Parkinson's disease: 'It's as though I never had it', patient says, as 'miracle' treatment ends tremors

A man suffering from Parkinson's disease has said a procedure which has ended his tremors "feels like a miracle".

An ultrasound thalamotomy, which gives Parkinson's patients hope of regaining independence, was carried out on a sufferer for the first time in Scotland earlier this month.

Ian Keir, 63, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2018 after suffering two years of tremors in his right hand and couldn't manage everyday tasks.

But since the retired firefighter underwent the non-invasive procedure at the University of Dundee's School of Medicine as part of an international clinical trial, he can write and cut his own food again, making him less reliant on his wife.

Mr Keir, from Carnoustie in eastern Scotland, said: "It feels like a miracle. My tremor has completely gone - it's as though I never had it. I'm now able to do exactly what I could before.

"I can pour a jug of water, my handwriting is back, and I'm now able to do things without thinking about them beforehand.

"I was obviously nervous but the improvement was almost immediate."

Uncontrollable tremors, stemming from reduced levels of dopamine in the brain, are a symptom of the incurable illness.

The ultrasound thalamotomy is an incision-free procedure that uses high-intensity focused ultrasound to create a lesion in a part of the brain known as the thalamus, which controls a person's movements.

Relying on technology that is not widely available, the procedure has been carried out on a small number of Parkinson's patients elsewhere and on 60 people in Scotland living with essential tremor disorder, a condition similar to, and often confused with Parkinson's, in recent years.

Dr Tom Gilbertson, consultant neurologist and honorary senior lecturer at the University of Dundee, one of the world's leading centres for Parkinson's research, called it "a milestone moment" for Scottish medicine.

"We have already witnessed the transformative impact similar procedures have for patients living with essential tremor, so to replicate that for those with Parkinson's - who may never have dreamed of having such control of their movements again - is a huge privilege," he said.

He said it has a "life-changing impact" on patients.

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Mr Keir said his shaking was "very innocuous to start with", but "over the years my tremors got significantly worse".

He added: "It was incredibly frustrating - I had to learn to eat with just a fork. Thankfully my wife is very understanding and was a great support to me.

"My handwriting was pretty much illegible - tremors affected my right hand, but I never really mastered writing with my left hand.

"While I'm aware this isn't a cure for Parkinson's, it is a cure for some of my symptoms. I'm so grateful and just want to make the most of every day."