Changes in Midline Tremor and Gait Following Deep Brain Stimulation for Essential Tremor

  • Masa-aki Higuchi
  • Ryan T. Roemmich
  • Daniel Martinez-Ramirez
  • Jaimie A. Roper
  • Lisa A. Zukowski
  • Kelly D. Foote
  • Michael S. Okun
  • Chris J. Hass


Background: Essential tremor (ET) is a common movement disorder characterized by kinetic and postural tremor in the upper extremities and frequently in the midline. Persons with ET often also exhibit gait ataxia. Previous studies have observed associations between midline tremor severity and gait ataxia in persons with ET, suggesting a common pathophysiology distinct from that of upper extremity tremor. However, a causal link between midline tremor and gait impairment has not been established.

Methods: We investigated tremor and gait in 24 persons with ET before and after implantation of unilateral deep brain stimulation into the ventralis intermedius nucleus of the thalamus.

Results: Stimulation significantly improved tremor in the targeted upper extremity and midline. However, gait was unaffected at the cohort level. Furthermore, improvement in midline tremor was not significantly associated with gait improvement.

Discussion: These findings revealed that midline tremor and gait impairment may be dissociable in persons with ET.

Keywords: Essential tremor, gait, deep brain stimulation, Thalamus, Ataxia

Citation: Higuchi M, Roemmich RT, Martinez-Ramirez D, Roper JA, Zukowski LA, Foote KD, et al. Changes in midline tremor and gait following deep brain stimulation for essential tremor. Tremor Other Hyperkinet Mov. 2019; 9. doi: 10.7916/tohm.v0.684