New NHS treatment could help people suffering with neurological disorder known as essential tremor

  • Video report by ITV Anglia's Matthew Hudson

A pioneering new treatment using high intensity ultrasound waves could help hundreds of thousands of people suffering with a life changing neurological disorder known as essential tremor.

Essential tremor is movement disorder affecting up to a million people that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking.

It is eight to 10 times more common than Parkinson's disease and can affect any part of the body, but the trembling occurs most often in your hands.

The severity of the essential tremor can also vary from patient to patient and it can manifest any age from my birth.

A new treatment for essential tremor available on the NHS works by focusing high intensity ultrasound waves to destroy a very small targeted area in the middle of the brain which is responsible for the tremor, whilst minimising risk to surrounding tissue.

Keith Pearson a musician from Cambridgeshire was among the first to benefit from this revolutionary treatment.

Mr Pearson suffered from uncontrollable tremors in his hands which dramatically effected his musicianship and blighted every aspect of his life.

But since having the treatment he's back playing the banjo.

Mr Pearson said: "To be able to play again is just a gift from wherever gifts come from. It's fabulous. I can't really describe it.

"It's like if you've not been able to walk and suddenly you can walk, it's like that."

The transformation in Mr Pearson's condition came after he became only the second NHS patient to receive the new non-invasive treatment. Similar private treatment costs around £23,000.

Keith's wife Elizabeth said the treatment has changed their lives: "He had become quite against going out to eat or drink in public.

"Going to pubs or restaurants or even with friends and family at home because he didn't want to be making a mess with his meal or spilling drinks and so on.

"But it's transformed our lives now really now that he's got his dexterity back."

Rob Mallard plays Daniel Osbourne in Coronation Street. Credit: PA

Coronation Street actor Rob Mallard was also diagnosed with an essential tremor when he was just 14-years-old.

He said: "Initially it was in my hands that’s where I first noticed it but now when I was 13/14 but in my 20s it spread to other parts of my body, it is my arm back of my head, and that’s quite a natural progression I believe that’s common with a lot of people that have essential tremor."

Mr Mallard explained whilst having an essential tremor is a constant obstacle it hasn't limited his career prospects as an actor.

"It hasn’t limited my opportunities and almost got in the way of me getting a job on Emmerdale.

"In the audition process my agent came back to me and said they wanted to give you the part they were just unsure because they thought I was too nervous so I had to explain to them what it was.

"Most people associate a tremor with the elderly. So if you see a tremor in a younger person your mind doesn’t go to that place where you think oh it’s a neurological condition I think most people tend to be suspicious of it and say it looks like you’re on alcohol withdrawal or with younger people but you’re incredibly nervous."

The revolutionary treatment for essential tremor has been approved by NHS England since April 2021.

But with only two machines in the country able to carry out the procedure one in London and the other in Liverpool there are long waiting lists for treatment.

Jackie Farrel from the National Tremor Foundation and who suffers with the disorder said: "This can be life changing for people that have this treatment, many who have struggled to pick up drinks coffee tea and eating when they have this treatment they say it has change their lives."