SPOTLIGHT ON TAKAOMI TAIRA, MD, PhD
Professor, Director of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, Department of Neurosurgery, Tokyo Women’s Medical University (TWMU), Tokyo, Japan, Past President of the World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery and Japan Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery. Professor Taira's main area of interest is Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery for movement disorders, including management of various types of dystonias.
Pioneering surgical thalamotomy in Japan for the last 30 years, today Professor Taira's armamentarium for treating essential tremor includes focused ultrasound, DBS, radiotherapy and RF thalamotomy. Professor Taira commented during an interview last year at WSSFN,
"Every treatment has pros and cons. The important advantage of this treatment (Exablate Neuro) is that there is no cutting of the skin and no burr holes in the skull."
I had the honor to meet Professor Taira last year at the WSSFN and was immediately captivated by his quick mind, friendly demeanor and his sincere concern for his patients. He sees the impact of essential tremor on his patients beyond the difficulty of eating and drinking that is normally associated with the condition. He gave as an example, a teacher who is unable to write clearly on the board in the classroom. While the tremor may not be severe, it has a profound impact on their ability to perform in their job and their quality of life. He also shared a story of an 80-year old woman who decided to have the focused ultrasound treatment because her tremor prevented her from her daily ritual of lighting incense to the Japanese traditional Shinto god.
Listen to Professor Taira and his recommendation that teams that are starting to use focused ultrasound should understand that the condition is debilitating for many essential tremor patients.