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When is deep brain stimulation used to treat tremor?

Nader Pouratian, MD
Neurosurgery
Deep brain stimulation is for advanced essential tremor that’s refractory, or is impairing a person's quality of life, regardless of the tremor amplitude. We all have some young patients who have a relatively small tremor amplitude, but because of their work, such as being an artist or playing the guitar, it’s really critical for them that they control even the smallest-amplitude tremor.

On the other hand, we’ll see some other patients who have very high-amplitude tremors but they’ve learned to manage their tremor. Just because they have a high-amplitude tremor, if they’re getting along, if they’re able to feed themselves, take care of themselves, there’s no reason that they have to have surgery. So this is focused on quality of life.

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