Hand tremors can be intermittent, occurring every so often or consistently. At times these hand tremors start on their own but can also act as a signal pointing to an underlying health issue (Barrell, 2018). On a day to day basis shaky hands can significantly impact an individual’s functionality. Individuals suffering from hand tremors due to essential tremor (ET) or Parkinson’s know that all aspects of their life can be affected.  From simple tasks such as, brushing their teeth in the morning, to cooking a meal for friends and family, or even when going out to a restaurant to eat, hand tremors have an impact on these individuals lives (Floyd, 2018). We all take the ability to do everyday activities for granted but when they start to become difficult the person effected may feel depressed, anxious, embarrassed and ultimately take on a social isolation state of mind (Floyd, 2018).

OT pic

Why you should visit an occupational therapist (OT)?

Occupational therapists (OT) can help people who have an injury, disability, or illness participate in “occupations” of everyday life (Floyd, 2018). “Occupations are all of the functional (useful and purposeful) activities someone participates in. Bathing, dressing, eating, reading, gardening, driving, and cooking are all occupations” (Floyd, 2018). It is important to realize that an OT can be very helpful in managing shaky hands. Your doctor can help you take the first step by recommending an evaluation for individuals who need this service.

“An OT who specializes in treating people who have neurological conditions can help a person with ET not only learn how to do tasks differently, but to look at the world, and the way it works, in more positive ways, says Karen Mainzer, an OT in Bridgeton, Mo., at St. Louis suburb” (Mainzer, 2019)

Why is it important to see an OT?    

An OT will serve and guide individuals with shaky hands due to ET or Parkinson’s to strengthen and increase their coordination of muscular movement (Thomas, 2019). Ultimately, this will improve functioning of muscle control, and enhance balance of coordination in most client cases. Seeing an OT will help individuals to continue engaging in daily activities with decreased difficulty (Barrell, 2018).

Typically, the process of occupational therapy for shaky hands will start off with physical therapy focused on coordination exercises, as well as exercises pertaining to increasing the balance of the tremor source (Thomas, 2019).  Clients may also be taught strategies to reduce the occurrence of tremor while using the affected body component. A commonly used practice for shaky hand’s is a medical motion hand brace during a tremor episode to help decrease its severity (Floyd, 2018).

Additionally, OT will help to find tailored techniques to best suit each individual’s condition and rate of tremor as they perform specific or daily tasks in all situations. For example, some kinds of adaptations such as incorporating large handle cups with extra grip or specific utensils, weights or even splints may help to optimize function with a hand tremor (Floyd, 2018).

Benefits of Visiting an OT For Shaky Hands

Professional Occupational therapy encompasses and draws from knowledge of proper body mechanics (Floyd, 2018). ‘Body mechanics are the way in which you use and position your body to be most effective at completing a task” (Floyd, 2018).

Techniques an OT may use:

  • Modification of tasks rather than trying to make the individual do something they cannot.
  • Promote success by changing tasks, using covered bottles, straws and filling glasses only half way.
  • Incorporate stabilized objects by using non-stick surfaces ex: grips for mugs.
  • Techniques to conserve energy.
  • Addition of weighted utensils to daily routine for things such as meals.
  • Use of assistive technology such as, hand tremor gloves, adaptable keyboards or mouse, voice activated software’s, and activity enhancing gadgets.

(Floyd, 2018)

Proposed solutions that OT’s will have access to:

  • Strength Training Programs: to ease functioning such as holding a glass as a result of improvement in strength through muscle building.
  • Incorporating weights to the wrist to stabilize the tremor under supervision.
  • Resistance training:  increasing muscular strength because of working against a weight or force.
  • Limb Cooling – source of tremor is cooled to 59 degrees Fahrenheit under supervision to help reduce tremor as short-term therapy.
  • Electro Stimulation – using electrodes, current is applied to source of tremor to try to reduce intensity of tremor.
  • Transcranial magnets – magnets are used to try to suppress the tremor through magnetic force and weight.
  • Vibration Therapy – vibration unit is used to improve tremor as a short-term therapy.
  • Bright Light Therapy – Specialized light used to suppress tremor.

(TAN, 2016)

Overall, having an OT for shaky hands will enable the sufferer to have a well-tailored plan that will cater techniques to improve and easily adapt to daily activity execution.

 

References

Barrell, A. (2018). “What does it mean if you have shaky hands?” Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322195.php.

Floyd, J. (2018). An Occupational Therapy Perspective. Retrieved from https://www.essentialtremor.org/coping/coping-with-et-articles/an-occupational-therapy-perspective/

Mainzer, K. (2019). Managing ET with Occupational Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.essentialtremor.org/coping/coping-with-et-articles/managing-et-with-occupational-therapy-2/

TAN. (2016). Occupational Therapies for Essential Tremor. Retrieved from http://tremoraction.org/2016/10/occupational-therapies-for-essential-tremor/

Thomas, L. (2019). Treating Essential Tremor. Retrieved from https://www.news-medical.net/health/Treating-Essential-Tremor.aspx

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