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Physiological and pharmacological aids in the differential diagnosis of tremor.
  1. B T Shahani,
  2. R R Young


    Physiological and pharmacological studies of more than 150 patients with movement disorders are reported. Particular attention is paid to the differentiation of various types of tremor on the basis of rate, rhythm, and pattern of EMG activity in antagonistic muscles. The typical 'tremor-at-rest' of Parkinson's disease--3-7 Hz activity which alternates between antagonistic muscles--is suppressed, at least briefly, during voluntary activity, at which time typical 8--12 Hz 'physiological tremor' may be seen. Essential tremor and its familial or senile variants also have a characteristic EMG pattern during voluntary activity--5-8 Hz bursts of activity which are synchronous in antagonistic muscles. This type of tremor may also be present in patients with Parkinson's disease and in certain kinships with a Charcot-Marie-Tooth polyneuropathy. Other tremors in association with polyneuropathy ('neuropathic tremor') have different physiological characteristics. Myoclonus is of essentially two types ('positive' with EMG bursts and 'negative' with brief pauses in ongoing activity, as with asterixis) and may, at times, mimic tremor. Certain specific tremors respond predictably to specific pharmacological therapy.

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