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Scot signs own name for first time in 20 years after groundbreaking treatment

A man signed his own name for the first time in 20 years after a groundbreaking treatment to banish the violent shaking that dogged his life.

Ian Sharp, 66, suffers from essential tremor, a neurological condition affecting about 80,000 Scots.

Non-invasive surgery called magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound uses sound waves to destroy tissue which can cause unwanted ­movements.

A team at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, are now able to carry out the procedure on Scots for the first time.

Ian during the treatment

Ian, from Dufftown, Moray, found it impossible to write his own name and even feeding himself or having a drink were mammoth tasks.

He said: “When I had it done on June 8, I was very emotional. I was able to do things like write
my name, which I hadn’t done in 20-odd years.

“I can drink a cup of tea and a glass of water and can carry a drink from a bar to a table without spilling it.

“It has given me so much more ­confidence. When we went out I used to find a table where I would have my back to people to try to mask the ­condition a bit.”

Scot signs own name for first time in 20 years after groundbreaking treatment
Frame keeps head still during MRI

The treatment is not yet widely ­available on the NHS but patients are being chosen to pilot the procedure. It is intended for those who have not responded to medication.

A surgeon uses MRI to target the correct area of the brain and to be sure the sound waves generate the exact amount of heat needed to destroy brain tissue in a specific area.

Medics produced a video showing the shaking Ian suffered before his surgery and his attempts to trace a spiral on a piece of paper, which looked like a toddler’s scribble.

Only 38 minutes after treatment, he was able to follow the spiral and sign his name for the first time in two decades.

Ian is delighted and despite side effects – which can include nausea, numb fingertips and temporary balance problems – says the treatment is a “miracle”.

Consultant neurologist Tom Gilbertson has since treated another three patients.

He said: “It all depends on whether the local health board is willing to pay for it. We want to make it part of standard treatment for essential tremor.”

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