The effect of changes in mechanical limb properties on the peak frequency of different tremor forms was analysed. Wrist tremor was recorded by an accelerometer fixed to the dorsum of the hand and demodulated surface EMG was recorded from the wrist extensors, while the extended hand was loaded with successively heavier weights. Physiological tremor was characterised by flat EMG spectra and a gradual decrease in tremor peak frequency with increasing load, as would be expected from the properties of a passive spring-mass-system. Also the peak frequency of activated physiological tremor characterised by increased synchronisation between motor units decreased in frequency with increasing loads. EMG spectra showed clear peaks of activity at the various mechanically determined tremor frequencies. In contrast, in two pathological tremor forms, the postural tremor in Parkinsonian patients and essential tremor, peak frequency tended to remain stable irrespective of changes in load. The method therefore allows a simple distinction between physiological and these two pathological tremors.
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