This study seeks to understand upper limb tremor in subjects with essential tremor (ET). A thorough understanding of tremor distribution will allow for the more effective development of tremor suppression devices, which offer an alternative to current treatments. Previous studies primarily focused on tremor in the hand only. This study seeks to characterize the distribution of tremor throughout the upper limb. We measured tremor in 25 subjects diagnosed with ET using motion capture, which provided 0displacement information of the limb during multiple postural and kinetic tasks. Inverse kinematics allowed us to analyze the motion capture data in the 7 major degrees of freedom (DOF) of the upper limb. The power spectral density estimate was used to determine: relative tremor magnitude throughout the DOFs, tremor variation between tasks, variation between subjects, and frequency variations between DOFs. Data analysis revealed that tremor increase is roughly proximal to distal. We also show that tremor magnitude in kinetic tasks is significantly higher than in postural tasks. Although we found some variation in tremor distribution between subjects, the roughly proximal to distal increase in tremor severity holds for several subsets of the study population. Finally, we found that tremor frequency doesn<'>t vary significantly (<<> 1 Hz) between DOFs, in subjects with severe tremor. Our study shows that tremor distribution is quite stereotyped between subjects with ET. Furthermore, we have shown that tremor is greatest in the distal DOFs. This provides a compelling starting point for the development of future tremor suppression devices.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering

Date Submitted


Document Type





essential tremor, motion capture, inverse kinematics, power spectral density, tremor characterization, tremor distribution, upper limb, degrees of freedom Distribution of Essential Tremor in the Degrees of Freedom of the Upper LimbAdam Charles PiggDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, BYUMaster of Science