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Successful procedure at IU Health has Indy man fishing again

Rick Brandes has suffered from essential tremors for 30 years.
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Posted at 5:50 PM, Apr 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-03 18:31:52-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Rick Brandes has had shaky hands for 30 years.

“It affects your confidence,” explained Brandes.


Brandes suffers from essential tremors.

The genetic disorder causes uncontrollable shaking in certain body parts or muscle groups.

“I’ve been out on dates before and had had people say, 'you're sick,'” shared Brandes.

Brandes explained that the condition can take a toll on one’s confidence.

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Rick's fishing pole storage

“They don't want to go to a restaurant, they're embarrassed because their food will go flying, or they spill their drinks all over themselves," he said.

Brandes has even lost the ability to live out his passion of fishing.

“I couldn't even tie hook anymore. This hand shook so much. You can't do it," he said.

Brandes was struggling, and his neurosurgeon at IU Health couldn’t fathom having tremors.

“I can't imagine having to live with it,” explained Dr. Thomas Whitt.

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In August 2023, Dr. Whitt brought the Focused Ultrasound procedure to Indianapolis to help those struggling with essential tremors.

“We’re destroying the cells but using a technique that doesn't require making an incision or drilling a hole in the head,” explained Whitt. “We attach a metal frame that patients had used under local anesthesia that helps us serve as a guide for the ultrasound waves.”

Whitt explained that the patient has very few side effects.

“During the procedure itself, sometimes when this ultrasonic energy has been delivered, they can feel some heat or some pressure from that," shared Whitt. “A little bit of nausea but that's it’s. That's kind of the worst of it."

Brandes’ only side effect was some numbness around the mouth but says it was all worth it.

“I feel like I'm a totally different person since," said Brandes.

Brandes bought a fishing boat four years ago and he is looking forward to fishing without tremors for the first time in years.


“Sliding across the water, finding my spot and when I catch that first fish, it's going to feel like heaven," he said.