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Understanding Essential Tremor

It affects at least eight times as many people as Parkinson Disease, but you’ve probably never heard of it. Essential tremor (ET) is one of the most common movement disorders—roughly four percent of adults over age 40 are living with it. 

Unlike Parkinson Disease, ET doesn’t come along with other problems, such as muscle stiffness and difficulty with balance, but nonetheless, the symptoms can have a huge impact on an individual’s quality of life. In ET, the typically tremor comes on when someone is attempting to do something with their hands—which can interfere with activities like writing, drinking coffee, and eating.

The spiral on the left-hand side of the image on this page, for example, was drawn by someone who has one hand affected by this type of tremor. 

Despite decades of writing about health, I knew next to nothing about ET before my publisher asked me to write about it for Good Times magazine.

So what else did I discover? For one, while the condition can be frustrating, many people find ways to live with the symptoms. And those whose quality of life is impaired because they’re no longer able to do activities they want to do, there are now more treatments available than ever before. 

To find out more,  read my latest Good Times health feature: ‘Understanding Essential Tremor.

My heartfelt thanks to the interviewees who so generously shared their expertise and stories:

  • Dr. Alfonso Fasano, a clinical investigator with the Krembil Research Institute and Centre for Advancing Neurotechnological Innovation to Application (CRANIA, hosted by the University Health Network’s KITE Research Institute and the University of Toronto).
  • Dr. Mandar Jog, Director of the National Parkinson Foundation Centre of Excellence in Parkinson Disease and the Movement Disorders Program at London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ont., and a professor of neurology at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.
  • Silvia MacLean, a retired teacher in London, Ont.
  • Heather Wright, a fellow freelance writer (her business name is Writing Words) and writing coach who lives in Kitchener, Ont.

Image Credit: Author: Svenskbygderna

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