Essential Tremor & Parkinson’s Disease Support Groups

Happy New Year & Best Regards from our team at Steadiwear

Hands for blog Sept 2018

Parkinson’s disease (PD) and essential tremor (ET) are the two most occurring movement disorders with tremors being the most noticeable symptom. Unfortunately, shaky hands lead to secondary medical conditions that affect patients’ physical and emotional lives. A recent study examined psychological complications in PD and ET patients such as depression, anxiety and social phobia, and found a high comorbidity of these disorders (1). This consequently affects personal relationships as well as limits social interaction and the ability of performing activities of daily living.

“My tremor makes me feel negative about myself; I am embarrassed about my tremor; I am depressed because of my tremor; I worry about the future; I am nervous or anxious; I have difficulty concentrating because of my tremor” (2).

It is very important to touch on such complications of PD and ET because they affect half, if not more, of the patients living with these movement disorders. On the bright side, there is a silver lining to this phenomenon. Since so many are affected by these symptoms, there is an abundance of people going through the same experiences, people who may be able to provide support in multiple forms. A study by Heusinkveld et al. showed an association between attending support groups and a better quality of life which includes reduced depression and anxiety for patients (3). This can be explained by the gain in knowledge about the illness, as well as being able to share personal worries and anxieties, and eventually realizing that these individuals are not the only ones suffering from the condition (4).

In summary, since many patients complain of finding it hard to ask their doctors questions or in some cases do not feel comfortable discussing their problems with family and friends, support groups allow PD and ET patients to:

  • Learn from others’ experiences.
  • Gain knowledge about what is available for them in terms of healthcare, home care, therapy etc.
  • Learn about the common symptoms and their treatments.
  • Know what type of research is being conducted in their area.
  • Create meaningful connections with people going through the same experiences.
  • Develop coping strategies.

“ […] There is a lot of camaraderie that goes on and it’s nice to talk with other people about the condition and we enjoy belonging to the local branch of the Parkinson Society. And I would recommend to anybody else who gets the condition they do make the effort and join.” – Anonymous

Although some people prefer not to attend support-group meetings due to their fear of facing people whose symptoms have progressed more than theirs, or simply because they are not yet ready to discuss such issues face-to-face with others, there are many other alternatives in terms of gaining support from the ET or PD community.

Some people have found success in participating in online support groups, whether through discussion boards of established organizations, or simply through social media support groups (Facebook). We highly recommend you go online and search for the support that suits you best.

Other Support Groups & Resource:

Just choose your location from the options below, to see if there is an essential tremor support group operating in your community. Or you can check our events calendar. If not, please consider starting one! Chances are, with the millions of people around the globe affected by essential tremor, it is likely there will be others in your community who are also seeking support.

The International Essential Tremor Foundation Blog.

Many people find that support groups are tremendously effective in helping them cope with the day-to-day realities of having Parkinson’s disease. Groups come in different formats — from large, formal meetings to smaller “living-room” get-togethers — and you probably won’t be equally comfortable with or get the same benefit from all. If you don’t like the first group you find, it’s worth looking for one that suits you better. If you can’t find any you like in your area, consider starting one. If you are unsatisfied with the available options, it is likely that you’re not the only one feeling that way.

“Provides free, reliable information about health issues, by sharing people’s real-life experiences. You can watch people sharing their stories about cancer, autism, motor-neuron disease, pregnancy, drugs, depression and much more.”

Provides a variety of services throughout Arizona for people with Parkinson’s and their family members and caregivers, including:
– Education and training
– Information and assistance
– Recreational programs
– Counseling
– Respite
– Support groups

Local Support Groups in Toronto:

For those living in Toronto or in the neighbouring communities, we have compiled a list of potential sources support you might like:

“Parkinson Canada is the voice of Canadians living with Parkinson’s disease. From diagnosis to discovery. You can count on us to be there at every step of your Parkinson’s journey. We provide education and services to support you, your family and your health team, online, by telephone and in person.”

“With accurate and up-to-date information at your fingertips, can help you find the local health and social services you need.”

As always, Steadiwear is constantly seeking for new volunteer testers, at our offices in Toronto, Ontario. Check out our video of our latest tester to see what our test entails. If you are living a little further out why not fill in our survey & keep an eye out for our latest newsletter by subscribing here.



  1. Smeltere, L., Kuzņecovs, V., & Erts, R. (2017). Depression and social phobia in essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease. Brain and behavior, 7(9), e00781. doi:10.1002/brb3.781
  2. Louis ED, Machado DG. Tremor-related quality of life: a comparison of essential tremor vs. Parkinson’s disease patients. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. (2015) 21:729–35. 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2015.04.019
  3. Heusinkveld, L. E., Hacker, M. L., Turchan, M., Davis, T. L., & Charles, D. (2018). Impact of Tremor on Patients With Early Stage Parkinson’s Disease. Frontiers in neurology, 9, 628. doi:10.3389/fneur.2018.00628
  4. Artigas, N. R., Striebel, V., Hilbig, A., & Rieder, C. (2015). Evaluation of quality of life and psychological aspects of Parkinson’s disease patients who participate in a support group. Dementia & neuropsychologia, 9(3), 295-300.


Why Are My Hands Shaking?

It is quite impossible to keep your hands completely still and therefore to some degree everyone has a tremor (Harvard Health Publishing, 2015). The root cause of this shakiness is due to the tiny muscle fibers found within the hands and arms that are constantly contracting and resting (Piedmont healthcare, 2017). At times this involuntary movement may become imbalanced as some of the muscle groups may continue to contract instead of entering the resting phase setting the timing off (Piedmont healthcare, 2017).

The trick here is figuring out if this shakiness of the hand is normal or abnormal (Harvard Health Publishing, 2015).

““You know your body best,” says Dr. Etienne. “If you feel shaky after a couple cups of coffee or as you prep for a public speaking engagement, it may very well be the caffeine or adrenaline causing your shakiness, and there is no cause for alarm. But if you can’t control it, even when you aren’t using your hands, this might be a sign to seek your doctor’s advice”” (Piedmont healthcare, 2017).


There are a variety of conditions that contribute to hand tremors. Common causes of shaky hands include:

Anxiety. Anxiety takes on a form of a psychological tremor, involuntary muscle movement occurring within the body of a healthy person resulting in mechanical and nervous system interactions (Tomczak, Gajewski, & Mazur–Różycka, 2014).  When dealing with such strong emotions, nerves are heightened causing shaky hands usually due to significant feelings of anger, stress, tiredness or being anxious.

Lack of Sleep. When the body is deprived of sleep it may trigger neurological reflexes that can then result in shaky hands, irritation, mood change, and lack of concentration (Piedmont healthcare, 2017).  Sleep deprivation can also contribute to chronic physical health issues and increase risk for things such as weakened immunity, memory issues, and weight gain (Healthline, 2018).

Alcoholism. The consumption of too much alcohol can result in liver and other health problems such as an alcohol disorder. Alcohol affects everyone differently however, common changes include personality and behavioral change such as irritability and lack of motivation, change in daily regimes, shaky hands, and slurred speech (Nazario, 2018). Depending on the severity of one’s alcohol intake hand shaking can last for a few days to years to even a longer duration of time (Nazario, 2018).   

Liver Damage. Cirrhosis occurs at the end stage of chronic liver disease when there is severe damage caused to the liver resulting in liver scarring (Healthline, 2018a). Common causes are due to alcohol abuse and viral infections (Healthline, 2018a). Positive physical examination tests will show pale skin, yellow eyes (jaundice), hand tremors, reddened palms, an enlarged liver or spleen, and finally, small testicles (Healthline, 2018a).  

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia). As the blood sugar levels decline well below normal, the nerves and muscles are deprived of fuel causing a variety of different effects such as, shakiness of the hand, sweating, anxiety, hunger, irritability, pale skin, fatigue and irregular heart rhythm (Mayo Clinic, 2018). Keep in mind that the adrenaline system will instantly respond and therefore it will make the shakiness worse for the time being. Overall hypoglycemia is a good indicator that an underlying health problem exists in some cases (Stearn, 2014).  

Overactive Thyroid (Hyperthyroidism). Known to be more prevalent in women and in individuals in their 20s and 30s (Piedmont healthcare, 2017). Excess thyroid hormone being released into the body speeds up processes and can not only result in shakiness but also anxiety, nervousness, rapid heartbeat, sweating, sleeping issues and weight loss (Aleppo, 2018).


In 2007, Oprah Winfrey announced that she had a thyroid problem diagnosed as hypothyroidism (Gentile, 2017).

“ My body was turning on me. First hyperthyroidism, which sped up my metabolism and left me unable to sleep for days. (Most people lose weight. I didn’t.) Then hypothyroidism, which slowed down my metabolism and made me want to sleep all the time. (Most people gain weight. I did! Twenty pounds!)” (Parker-Pope, 2007).

Too Much Caffeine. If too much coffee, tea or chocolate is consumed it can result in shaky hands, feeling of jitters, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, stomach irritation and headaches especially if one has substance sensitivity (Zehr, 2017). Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulate and when consumed in adequate amounts it makes the consumer more awake, energetic and alert (Zehr, 2017).

Essential Tremor. A nerve disorder causing uncontrolled shaking or tremors to different areas of the body. Most common areas of the body that are affected include arms, hands, larynx, tongue, head, and chin. In majority of cases lower body parts are not affected by this condition (WebMD, 2018).  A key aspect of essential tremors is that it produces more noticeable movements as the muscle fibers contracting and resting are synchronous oppose to contracting at random (Stearn, 2014).

Katharine Hepburn.png

“ The late “actress Katharine Hepburn is an extreme example of advanced essential tremor – it affected her voice, head and arms, as well as her hands,” Rezak notes. Playwright Eugene O’Neill also suffered from essential tremor. So does rocker J. Roddy Walston, of J. Roddy Walston & The Business, who became increasingly vocal about his condition in the band’s 2013 LP “Essential Tremors.”” (Colino, 2015).

Psychogenic Tremor (Functional Tremor).  Can come and go as any form of shakiness within the body. The tremor worsens during times of peak stress and declines or stops when distracted (Office of Communications and Public Liaison, 2018).  It is very common for individuals with psychogenic tremor to also have an underlying psychiatric disorder such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Office of Communications and Public Liaison, 2018).

Multiple Sclerosis (MS). An immune system targeting disease that affects the nerves, brain, spinal cord and causes shaky hands (WebMD, 2017). Essential tremors in the hand or foot are very common in MS and occur when one is already performing the act of moving (WebMD, 2017).

Jack Osbourne Son of the famous British rock star Ozzy Osbourne,  publicly announced having multiple sclerosis in 2012.

“Since his diagnosis, Osbourne’s motto is “Adapt and Overcome.” He uses the hashtag #Jackshaft on Twitter to talk about his experience with MS. “I will never say that I am thankful for MS,” he said in an open letter. “But I will say that without MS, I don’t know if I would have made the necessary changes in my life that have changed me for the better” (Healthline, 2018b).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A disorder where the brain reacts with excessive fear and nervousness even after one has already experienced or seen a traumatic or terrifying event, long after the original trauma event is over (Peterson, 2018). The brain reacts by staying in overdrive and in a state of hyper alertness for the next trauma (Peterson, 2018). This causes nervousness, jittering, and shaking (Peterson, 2018). Alternately, followed by a traumatic event, one can become numb and shut down their feelings and start to avoid certain situations that recall traumatic events. Other individuals can fall prey for depression, irritability, or risky behavior (Peterson, 2018).


Lady Gaga released an open letter to her fans talking about her battle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

She wrote: “I have wrestled for some time about when, how and if I should reveal my diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After five years of searching for the answers to my chronic pain and the change I have felt in my brain, I am finally well enough to tell you. There is a lot of shame attached to mental illness, but it’s important that you know that there is hope and a chance for recovery” (Hinde, 2017).

Parkinson’s Disease (PD). A less common condition in comparison to essential tremor. PD causes shakiness of the hand just as essential tremor but rather than causing difficulties in performing tasks the shaking of the hand is the worst when one is resting and not utilizing the hand (Stearn, 2014). The shakiness in Parkinson’s disease is referred to as ‘pill rolling’ this is because its similar to rolling a pill between one’s thumb and side of the index finger (Stearn, 2014).


In 1984, Muhammad Ali’s condition was officially diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease, three years after he retired from the professional boxing (Sawer, 2016).

“at the age of 38, tempted back into the ring by money and his love of the crowd, he suffered a terrible beating at the hands of Larry Holmes, his former sparring partner. In 1981 he took another pummelling, losing on points to Trevor Berbick before finally retiring for good. By now Ali’s physical deterioration was obvious. He suffered from permanent fatigue, his mouth drooled saliva and he developed a tremor in his hand” (Sawer, 2016).


Medications. Involuntary drug induced shakiness can occur as the nervous system and muscles respond to medication’s ingested (Medline Plus, 2018). Some common medications that can cause shaking include:

  • Excessive movement disorder medication (Tetrabenazine)
  • Cancer medicines (cytarabine and thalidomide)
  • Antidepressants (tricyclics and Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs))
  • Seizure medicines (sodium valproate and valproic acid)
  • Heart medications (procainamide and amiodarone)
  • Asthma medication (albuterol and theophylline)
  • Lithium (mood stabilizer)
  • Immune suppressing medicines (tacrolimus and cyclosporine
  • Stimulants (amphetamines and caffeine)  
  • Antibiotics
  • Nicotine
  • Weight loss/ bariatric medication (tiratricol)
  • Overactive thyroid medication (levothyroxine)
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Antivirals (vidarabine)
  • Epinephrine and norepinephrine

(Medline Plus, 2018)

There are many causes for shaky hands ranging from non-severe issues such as consuming too much coffee to more chronic issues such as essential tremors. Information provided is for educational purposes only and does not replace a licensed physician’s professional diagnosis, treatment or medical advice on your shaky hands problem.

Now Back To The Question, Do You Have Shaky Hands?

If so, you have come to the right place. Steadiwear has created an innovative solution to cater to your shaky hands.  Our Steadi-One glove can help reduce your shakiness, allowing you to better perform everyday tasks. Read more about the  Steadi-One.

Fill in our survey and book your consultation today by emailing us at



Aleppo, G. (2018). Hyperthyroidism Overview. Retrieved from

Colino, S. (2015). The Truth About Essential Tremor: It’s Not Just a Case of Nerves. Retrieved from

Gentile, J. (2017). Celebrities with Thyroid Disorders. Retrieved from

Harvard Health Publishing. (2015). Tremor – Harvard Health. Retrieved from

Healthline. (2018). 11 Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body. Retrieved from

Healthline. (2018a). Cirrhosis. Retrieved from

Healthline. (2018b). Celebrities with Multiple Sclerosis. Retrieved from

Hinde, N. (2017). 17 Celebrities Open Up About Mental Health. Retrieved from

Livinglifewithessentialtremor. (2018). Katherine Hepburn & ET! Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic. (2018). Hypoglycemia. Retrieved from

Medline Plus. (2018). Drug-induced tremor: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Nazario, B. (2018). Signs of Drug Addiction. Retrieved from

Office of Communications and Public Liaison. (2018). Tremor Fact Sheet. Retrieved from

Parker-Pope, T. (2007). Oprah’s Thyroid Club. Retrieved from

Peterson, M. (2018). Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms, Tests & Treatments. Retrieved from

Piedmont healthcare. (2017). Shaky hands – normal or not? Retrieved from—-normal-or-not

Sawer, P. (2016). His longest round: Muhammad Ali’s fight with Parkinson’s disease . Retrieved from

Stearn, M. (2014). Shaky hands. Retrieved from

Tomczak, A., Gajewski, J., & Mazur–Różycka, J. (2014). Changes in Psychological Tremor Resulting From Sleep Deprivation Under Conditions of Increasing Fatigue During Prolonged Military Training. Biol Sport, 31(4), 303-308. doi:10.5604/20831862.1127343

WebMD. (2017). Can multiple sclerosis (MS) cause shaky hands? Retrieved from

WebMD. (2018). The Brain and Essential Tremor. Retrieved from

Zehr, M. (2017). How to Treat Hand Tremors by Exercising. Retrieved from

Living with Parkinson’s Disease (The Caregiver Edition)


Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination (Robinette, Charles et al, 2018). Symptoms usually begin gradually and worsen. Overtime individuals may experience mental and behavioral changes, memory loss, fatigue, sleep problems, and depression. PD is most common in men aged 60. However, early onset of the disease can begin at the age of 50 (Robinette, Charles et al, 2018).

Families Coping with Parkinson’s Disease  

Parkinson’s Disease like any other chronic illness manifests many physical and psychological challenges, this can be incredibly hard on the family. Along with the affected individuals the family has to also deal with change and adopt to this new lifestyle that comes along. It can be emotionally devastating to see a family member suffer and having to support and care for them throughout (WHP, 2017).

qaulity of life

Family members of individuals with PD have their work cut out for them. Caregivers and family take part in: 

  • Maintaining quality of life
  • Keeping updated on disease progression, symptoms, treatment and challenges.
  • Offer love and support

(Senelick, 2016)

Maintaining Quality of Life

It is a crucial part of maintaining quality of life even after being diagnosed with PD that affected individuals understand that they are not alone in this journey. The family should actively be apart of the affected family members daily life. Involvement can range from different activities such as going for a walk, watching television, taking a trip to the grocery store, or even doing laundry (WHP, 2017). As long as some involvement is there from the family it can act as a temporary relief from symptoms and enhance quality of life (WHP, 2017)

(Ryerson, 2015)

Keeping Updated on Disease Progression, Symptoms, Treatment and Challenges

Many symptoms of PD are almost invisible these include fatigue, anxiety and depression (Ryerson, 2015). Most of the time it is not immediately apparent that your loved is suffering as it may be internal symptoms. Having frequent conversations about how your loved one feels and what has changed or progressed within their illness is key. This keeps family members in the loop and allows them to accommodate for long-term care.

Offer Love and Support

Doctor’s appointments, support group meetings, communicating with children and other family members can all be very overwhelming. It is a good idea to have and bring a caregiver along to listen and take part in certain situations. For example, it may be a good idea to take your spouse along to a doctor’s appointment as she or he will have a better idea about any mood or behavioral changes and concerns (Ryerson, 2015).

A poem describing Jane Davis’ experience with Parkinson’s disease when her husband, Gary, was diagnosed


“I watch
your body slowly deteriorating
not daily, not weekly,
but it is there.
I compare to a year past
and then I know,
your body is betraying you.

Friends notice
family too,
our children don’t want to admit.
To them, you are the superhero
one that can do anything
build anything
fix anything.
Maybe that is how it should be.

I watch you move and sway,
Darn medications.
Darn disease.
I watch you struggle to button,

Darn disease.
I watch you walk with your bent back,
I watch you grimace in pain.
Darn disease.
I watch your hands tremor,
Darn disease.
I watch those many trips to the bathroom
Darn disease
I watch you take your medications
throughout the day
too many to count.
Darn disease
I watch you keep going
fighting back that pain and stiffness

I love your drive
I love that you never give up
I love that you refuse to slow down

I watch you with admiration and love.”

(Parkinson’s Foundation, 2018).

As the poem portrays PD is a rough journey that needs a strong will and strong supportive caregiver. Have any of our readers created any other poems? We would love to read or hear them. Reach out via our Facebook page

External Support Resources

We sometimes forget to keep in mind that PD takes a toll on the caregiver and family. Support is also needed to those providing care to their loved ones. Families no longer have to cope with Parkinson’s disease alone. Many support groups, charities and educational material and aid are openly available. Here is a short list that our team has found to be greatly supportive:

Caring in a Family with Parkinson’s –  Parkinson Canada

The Emotional Side of Caregiving: Parkinson’s Caregivers Share Advice  – Michael J. Fox Foundation

Parkinson’s Disease and CaregivingFamily Caregiver Alliance


Parkinson’s Foundation. (2018). How to Cope with Parkinson’s as a Caregiver. Retrieved from

Michael J. Fox Foundation. (2018). Support & Caregiving for Parkinson’s Patients: The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Retrieved from

Robinette, J. W., Charles, S. T., & Gruenewald, T. L. (2018). Neighborhood cohesion, neighborhood disorder, and cardiometabolic riskSocial Science & Medicine, 198, 70-76. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.12.025

Ryerson, N. (2015). Parkinson’s Disease and Your Marriage: Advice from Our Community. Retrieved from

Senelick, R. (2016). Coping Tips for Caregivers of Those With Parkinson’s Disease. Retrieved from

WHP. (2017). We Have Parkinson’s. Retrieved from

Having Parkinson’s and Tips for Coping Daily

Having a disability, such as Parkinson’s disease, in the workplace can prove to be very challenging. This degenerative disease affects the motor system, resulting in tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia (slowness of movement), instability and fatigue. The number of individuals with disabilities and chronic diseases in the workforce is increasing due to longer life expectancy rates.

It is the government’s responsibility to take on an active role in providing both emotional and financial support for those in need. In Canada, The Ontario Human Rights Code fights against ableism in the workplace – the discrimination against those with disabilities. It also ensures that people with disabilities in the workforce receive proper services and the necessary adjustments that would allow them to receive equal access to the same opportunities as the rest of the working force.

Studies show that PD patients tend to retire earlier than anticipated (Koerts et al, 2016). The average diagnosis age is 55 years and the longer they stay in the labor force, the harsher their symptoms progress. As a result, it becomes more challenging to perform certain tasks and duties. A PD patient’s “working capacity” (Martikainen, et al, 2006) eventually decreases and they require major adjustments in the workplace. PD patients may ask for work adjustments, such as extra breaks, option of working from home and taking on fewer responsibilities. However, these adjustments may not be enough to help them meet certain expectations. As the disease progresses, they are faced with severe symptoms preventing them from moving forward. This may lead to work dissatisfaction, which is a key factor in their decision for pursuing early retirement.

When studying the impact of having PD in the workplace, one must consider the direct and indirect costs to society. Direct costs include costs such as treatment and medications while indirect costs involve early retirement, reduced income, unemployment and the impact PD has on one’s mental health.

Many studies reveal that factors other than the diagnosis can impact an individual’s employment status. When diagnosed with PD, the challenges do not only stop at the physical level, but also spill over to the individual’s financial and mental health. Koerts et al. (2016) found that level of income depends on the age of onset, “patients who were younger than the age of 60 received a lower monthly income than individuals without PD of a similar age”. This is indicates that those with PD are more likely to be in a worse off financial state than their colleagues.

From a psychological perspective, PD patients tend to avoid public spaces due to their movement disorder being perceived as disruptive and erratic. It is psychologically problematic for one to constantly feel anxious of being in public spaces, afraid to attend work gatherings and meetings, and receive unwanted attention. Therefore, PD patients tend to leave their jobs earlier than they have to because of emotional distress. Unfortunately, the diagnosis coupled with the loss of employment does not alleviate distress.

In conclusion, PD creates many challenges for an individual in the labor force. While the direct costs may seem significant, it is the indirect costs that truly pose the greater problem to our society. Working with PD can be difficult and have psychological implications that force many PD patients to retire early. Work adjustments are important to improve an individual’s “working capacity”, however, some adjustments may not be enough to meet their work expectation. Is the government’s effort to reduce these challenges effective?


Tai Chi, an exercise involving yoga and meditation, is an excellent way for Parkinson’s disease patients to improve balance and motor control. This exercise known for its health benefits and would not only allow PD patients to regain control over their lives, but also increase working capacity and functionality.  If interested in Tai Chi, our blog covers the exercise more thoroughly along with other options in the post “Exercise, Not Only for the Realm of Athletes”


Banks , P., & Lawrence, M. (2006). The Disability Discrimination Act, a necessary, but not sufficient safeguard for people with progressive conditions in the workplace? The experiences of younger people with Parkinson’s disease. Disability and Rehabilitation, 28(1), 13-24.

Koerts, J. et al. (2016). Working capacity of patients with Parkinson’s disease – A systematic review. Parkinsonism and Related Disorders, 27, 9-24.

Martikainen, K. K. (2006). Parkinson’s Disease and Working Capacity. Movement  Disorders, 21(12), 2187-2191.

Wayne, P. (2013, May 03). Tai chi improves balance and motor control in Parkinson’s disease. Havard Health Publishing 

(2016) Policy on ablesim and discrimination based on disability, Ontario Humans Rights Commission

Children with Essential Tremor

Children with Essential Tremor

Essential Tremor (ET) is the most common movement disorder, which is often typecast as an illness of the elderly. Nevertheless, this is far from reality. ET may affect people from all ages and is prevalent among 4.6%-5.3% of the childhood population and children are often misdiagnosed due to the stereotype. ET has a hereditary trait, as a study carried in 2004 by Joseph Jankovic showed that out of a sample of 39 children, 79.5% reported at least one relative with tremor. Furthermore, the mean age at onset of the 39 patients was 8.8±5.0 years and mean age at evaluation was 20.3±14.4 years.

ET has disturbing effects on the quality of life of people who suffer from the disease. 20% of children have kinetic tremor only (i.e. tremor present only when the hands are moving), 5% have postural tremor only (i.e. tremor is visible when the hands are held outstretched), and 75% have both. It can prompt depression and also cause social anxiety. For children it can be even tougher to handle since ET may present difficulties preforming school activities as well as being in front of their peers. It can challenge them by making writing, typing, drawing, or even eating a hardship and additionally, peers may make it harder on them since they can make harsh comments. This may lead to children with ET to avoid their peers, or even refuse to try the simplest tasks. One way to avoid this is to be open about the condition with the child’s classmates and boosting self-esteem early on. Family members that suffer from ET can also be of great help and give them advice. Therefore, they will be aware about the condition and this may avoid them making fun of the child suffering from ET. Children may also get shy causing anxiety, which may cause an increase in tremors. Children are often given small doses of propranolol (20-60 mg) to improve the tremors, however there haven’t been any controlled trials to prove it helps children with the tremors.

The frequency of the tremor in children has a lower frequency from ages 7-12 years than from 14-16 years. It goes from an average of 5.3 Hz to 9.0 Hz respectively. An interesting observation is that when putting a 300-gram weight on the fingers of children with ages 7-12 years, the tremor increases in frequency from the 5.3 Hz to 8.2 Hz, whereas in teenagers and adults it has no effect on tremor frequency. Also, tremor in children can be associated with dystonia, which is a condition where there are sustain muscle spasms. Moreover, an over-active thyroid gland may also cause tremor. Consequently, a blood sample for thyroid function tests may be necessary.

If you are a parent of a child with ET, or a young person with ET we invite you to comment down below any questions, thoughts or stories. We would like this to be a place of discussion and, if possible, a way to reach out for help or to get any doubts answered. These connections should lead to a greater understanding, a support network, and opportunities to share advice with other parents or young people suffering from ET.