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characterise postural tremors in patients with Parkinson's disease.
Rest tremor is a well recognised cardinal symptom of Parkinson's
disease, but postural tremors associated with the disease may cause
more disability than the more typical rest tremor. Postural tremor of
Parkinson's disease has been attributed to enhanced physiological
tremor, clonus, or coexistent essential tremor. It is postulated that
one type of postural tremor in Parkinson's disease represents a rest
tremor that re-emerges after a variable delay while maintaining
posture, hence "re-emergent tremor".
METHODS—Accelerometry, peak frequency, peak frequency amplitude, root mean square (RMS) amplitude, and latency were determined in 18 patients (mean age: 63.2 (SD 9.8) years) with Parkinson's disease who had clinically evident postural tremor, 20 (mean age: 66.9(SD 5.8) years) with typical essential tremor, and seven (mean age: 68.7 (SD 15.3) years) with the combination of pre-existing essential tremor and subsequent Parkinson's disease (essential tremor/Parkinson's disease). Latency, the time interval starting with the assumption of an outstretched posture and ending with the onset of postural tremor, was measured by marking the start time by a pulse produced from interrupting a beam to a photocell when the arm reached a horizontal position.
RESULTS—The latency for the re-emergent tremor (9.37 (SD 10.66) s), present in 12 of 18 patients with Parkinson's disease, was significantly (p<0.0005) longer than the latency for postural tremor of essential tremor (1.29 s in one patient, absent in 19 others); five of seven essential tremor/Parkinson's disease patients had an observed latency (6.57 (SD 8.23 s) which was also significantly (p<0.005) longer than that for essential tremor. There was no difference in the mean tremor frequency (~5.5 Hz) between the re-emergent tremor and the more typical Parkinson's disease rest tremor. The amplitudes were generally higher for the postural tremor associated with Parkinson's disease compared with those of essential tremor.
CONCLUSION—These studies suggest that the re-emergent tremor of Parkinson's disease can be differentiated from the postural tremor of essential tremor and that it may share pathophysiological mechanisms with the more typical rest tremor.