You are sitting at a restaurant having dinner. Feeling thirsty, you reach for your water glass on the table. You grab and lift the glass, but your hand is shaking uncontrollably. Minutes pass, but even with much effort you are unable to steady your hand enough to bring the glass to your mouth to drink.

Essential tremor – a neurological movement disorder that causes involuntary shaking of the hands, head, and voice – affects millions of Americans and is common in people over the age of 65. It can greatly impact activities of daily living, like eating, dressing, writing, or typing.

“Medications can be used to help treat essential tremor and other movement disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, but they are not always effective or may lose effectiveness over time,” says Dr. Michael Hayes, Neurological Director for Functional Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).“They also can carry significant side effects.”

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