Limb positioning and magnitude of essential tremor and other pathological tremors

Authors

  • Dr. Jerome N. Sanes,

    Corresponding author
    1. Human Motor Control Section, Medical Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.
    • Center for Neural Science, Box 1953, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, U.S.A.
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  • Mark Hallett

    1. Human Motor Control Section, Medical Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.
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Abstract

We examined the influence of maintaining different postural configurations of the upper extremity on the magnitude of tremor in patients with essential tremor and with postural tremor from a variety of other neurological disorders. Patients maintained postures requiring different angles of forward flexion in the sagittal plane, of horizontal flexion, and of elbow extension. The tremor of patients diagnosed with essential tremor was either unaffected or affected only little by changes in limb position. In contrast, patients with pathological tremors, of the cerebellar postural, parkinsonian, and other types, exhibited positional dependence of their tremor. When there was positional dependence of tremor, it was always largest when the hands were near the nose or chin. These observations suggest a practical method for assistance with the clinical discrimination of essential tremor from other postural tremors.

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