The gait disorder of advanced essential tremor

Brain. 2001 Nov;124(Pt 11):2278-86. doi: 10.1093/brain/124.11.2278.


Gait disturbances of patients with essential tremor (ET) have been described anecdotally, but have never been investigated quantitatively. Recent studies provided evidence for a cerebellar-like hand tremor in some patients with ET. Therefore, we designed a study to assess cerebellar-like abnormalities of leg function. Twenty-five patients with ET, eight patients with cerebellar diseases (CD) and 21 age-matched healthy subjects were studied for their normal and tandem gait using a three-dimensional gait analysis system. During normal walking, CD and ET patients showed only slight abnormalities. However, ET patients exhibited abnormalities in tandem gait with an increased number of mis-steps and a broad-based, ataxic and dysmetric gait which was indistinguishable from the findings in CD. When ET patients were separated into groups of those with or without intention tremor of the hands, the gait disorder was found to be much more pronounced in the intention tremor group. Patients with this gait disorder were more severely disturbed in their activities of daily living, and suffer from an advanced stage of ET. The present results quantitatively describe a gait disturbance in advanced ET which affects tandem gait, but leaves normal gait almost unaffected. This is strong evidence for a cerebellar-like disturbance in ET.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebellar Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cerebellar Diseases / physiopathology
  • Essential Tremor / diagnosis
  • Essential Tremor / physiopathology*
  • Gait
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / diagnosis
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Statistics, Nonparametric