Gait abnormality in essential tremor

Mov Disord. 1994 Mar;9(2):193-6. doi: 10.1002/mds.870090212.


Essential tremor (ET) has been described as a monosymptomatic disorder. In reports describing large series of patients with ET, there are rare patients who exhibit a noticeable gait disorder. However, we have observed that patients with ET and normal gait often exhibit an abnormality of tandem gait. To investigate this observation, we examined whether a gait disorder was present in 36 consecutive patients (mean age 69) with ET. We employed a tremor rating scale that scored tremor amplitude, location, and disability. In all patients, gait and tandem gait were separately evaluated. Eighteen of 36 patients (50%) exhibited tandem gait abnormalities in the presence of a normal narrow-based gait compared to 11 of 40 age-matched controls (28%) (p < 0.05). Abnormality of tandem gait was more frequently present in older ET patients and those with > 5 years of disease duration. No relationship was found between presence of tandem gait abnormality and gender, tremor severity, head involvement, or positive family history. The finding of a tandem gait abnormality in 50% of ET patients suggests that cerebellar dysfunction may be important in its pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / physiopathology
  • Cerebellum / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Olivary Nucleus / physiopathology
  • Pons / physiopathology
  • Tremor / physiopathology*