On the morning we sat down to catch up with Alexandra Lebenthal, she had just finished scrolling through her Facebook “Memories” and came across the video she saw four years ago about a new, groundbreaking treatment for essential tremor.
“I was absolutely mesmerized by the video and my initial feeling was that I had to have it,” Alex shared.
After doing her research and talking with her doctor, Alex was one of the first patients treated with focused ultrasound for medication-refractory essential tremor at Weill Cornell Medicine Brain and Spine Center.
Four years later, Alex still notices every day the change in her life since the treatment.
Alex has lived with essential tremor since she was a child, though she did not receive an official diagnosis until she was in her 40s. After talking with her neurologist at Weill Cornell, Dr. Michael G. Kaplitt, and learning he would be conducting the treatment, she decided to sign-up.
“It felt like this was something that was going to change my life and give me control, so I went for it.”
With the support of Dr. Kaplitt, the team at Weill Cornell, and her husband and family, Alex received focused ultrasound treatment in 2016. Though she experienced temporary balance issues for the first few months after treatment, she saw immediate tremor relief in her treated hand.
“My life changed miraculously. When I had tremor, I didn’t take anything I did in my life for granted because I was always so conscious of how hard it was for me to complete a task. Today I still don’t take things for granted because I’m amazed by how easy they are to do.”
For example, Alex shared that before the focused ultrasound treatment when speaking with someone on video chat, she would never be holding a cup of coffee or any beverage as someone might notice her hand shaking as she brought the cup to her mouth. Today, on our video call, she casually sipped a mug of coffee throughout our conversation. “The difference is night and day.”
How else has life changed for Alex? When going out for lunch with new colleagues, she doesn’t have to worry they’ll notice her tremor and think she is nervous or something else is wrong with her. When playing golf with her husband, she knows she can easily set the golf ball on the tee.
At first Alex was hesitant to get the focused ultrasound treatment because only one side can be treated. However, tremor relief in one hand has had a very positive impact on her life, allowing her to do so many things on a daily basis.
Her advice for anyone living with essential tremor who’s considering focused ultrasound treatment? “Discuss your options with a neurologist and talk to other people who have had the treatment. I’m always thrilled to have those conversations.”
You can watch Alex share more about her journey to tremor relief in our YouTube series, “Coffee with Alex.”
This testimonial may not be representative of all treatment outcomes. For additional information about focused ultrasound for essential tremor, including safety information, please click here