Correlates between force and postural tremor in older individuals with essential tremor

Justin J. Kavanagh*, Justin W L Keogh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Essential tremor (ET) is commonly associated with kinetic tremor. However, other forms of tremor, such as force and postural tremor, may occur in ET with less severity. This study objectively assessed force and postural tremor characteristics in ET with the purpose of identifying the relationships between these tremors. Ten individuals with ET (age 71 ± 5 years) and ten healthy controls (age 70 ± 5 years) participated in the study. Force tremor was quantified as fluctuations in index finger abduction force during isometric contractions at 10 % maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) and 60 % MVC. Postural tremor was quantified as index finger acceleration when the subjects held their entire arm unsupported, and when their arm was supported so that only the index finger could move. Time- and frequency-domain parameters were extracted from tremor data, and then correlations within, and between, tremor subtypes were examined. ET force tremor was dependent on contraction intensity whereas postural tremor was unaffected by the level of limb support. Significant correlations existed between frequency components of postural tremor and force tremor amplitude. Force tremor amplitude normalised to the level of contraction intensity correlated to the proportion of power for postural tremor. These correlations were observed for both contraction intensities and both levels of postural support. The proportion of power represents the output of central oscillators in ET patients and therefore correlated well to force tremor. Given that significant relationships existed between spectral features of postural tremor and the overall force tremor amplitude, it is clear that these tremor modalities are not completely independent in older adults with ET.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-695
Number of pages8
Issue number6
Early online date21 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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