A Pilot Study for Quantitative Assessment of Gait in Essential Tremor Using Wireless Sensors: Potential Diagnostic Tool and Measure of Progression

IETF Funded Research

Here’s an overview of a 2018 Research Study which received grant funding from the IETF:

Principal Investigator: Vibhash Sharma, MD
University of Kansas Medical Center

Although essential tremor (ET) is the most common tremor disorder, its diagnosis can be challenging, and misdiagnosis of ET is not uncommon. The most common movement disorder confused with essential tremor is tremor predominant Parkinson’s disease (PD). Dopamine transporter (DaT) scan is the only available diagnostic tool utilized in the differentiation of ET from PD. However, due to its expense and limited availability it is important to develop a relatively inexpensive tool that can easily and efficiently be utilized in clinical settings to aid in the accurate diagnosis of ET. With growing evidence of gait abnormalities in ET, studying quantitative gait measures may potentially aid in differentiating ET and PD. In this pilot study, we aim to quantitatively analyze gait and balance in the clinical setting using wireless sensors to determine if the gait abnormalities are present in early ET, and whether comparing various aspects of gait and balance can help to differentiate between ET and PD.

The study will include patients who have received a DaTscan as part of their clinical care, to help confirm a diagnosis of either ET or PD.  The DaTscan results will be considered the “gold standard” diagnosis, which will be compared to the results of the gait and balance assessments to determine if these assessments can similarly differentiate the patients as either ET or PD.

The study will be conducted in the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Summary Update for A Pilot Study for Quantitative Assessment of Gait in Essential Tremor Using Wireless Sensors

Principal Investigator: Vibhash Sharma, MD
University of Kansas Medical Center (KU)

July 2019 Update

The comparison of essential tremor (ET) to healthy controls has been completed but work is still being done on the comparison between ET and Parkinson’s disease (PD) and the comparison of outcomes with DaTscans.

We have performed gait assessments for 53 patients with essential tremor and 31 age matched healthy controls. The data obtained for essential tremor patients and healthy controls has been analyzed. We found that ET patients have impairment in multiple gait parameters (stride length, lower cadence, reduced gait speed and increased double support percent) when compared to normative values. When compared to age matched healthy controls, we again found significant impairment in multiple gait parameters including gait speed, stride length, increased double support percent, toe out angle and reduced lower limb swing. Interestingly, we also observed reduced right arm swing in patients when compared to healthy controls, which was also noted in ET patients with negative DaTscan. We presented our results at the KU Research Day and will be presenting again in September 2019 at the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder (MDS) meeting to be held in Nice, France. As part of a separate initiative, during the last year, we have performed gait assessment for more than 1,200 PD patients from which we will extract a subset for the comparison with ET patients.

Work continues on the study and results are anticipated by the end of 2019.