Personalized treatment for tremors

For patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, writing a grocery list or taking a drink from a cup can be a daily struggle due to disabling arm tremor. Now, technology developed in London provides a personalized therapy that is giving new hope for these patients.

The technology, under the tradename TremorTek, uses a combination of wearable movement sensors and computer software to determine exactly which muscles and what biomechanics are at play for each individual patient’s tremor symptoms. Using the information from that technology, clinicians can precisely place injections to reduce tremor at the exact source.

Developed by a research team led by Dr. Mandar Jog, a Scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute and Professor in the Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, the technology is showing exceptional promise in clinical trials for both essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease tremor.

Over the course of 38 weeks, the severity of the tremor was significantly reduced and eating, drinking and working performance was improved. The results of the studies were recently published in the journals PLoS One and in Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements Journal.

“Very few clinicians inject for tremor because before now, it just didn’t work. The injections would only cause weakness,” said Dr. Jog. “We realize now that was because they didn’t know where to inject.”

39 year-old Michael Dietrich was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease six years ago and tremors in his right arm have prevented him from doing things like brushing his teeth and using the computer, limiting his ability to do his job as a kitchen designer. After becoming involved in the study, Dietrich says the technology has dramatically changed his quality of life. “It has been life-altering,” he said. “Being involved in the trial with the sensor-guided injections means that now I can do most functions that I used to do. I have seen a marked difference.”