Patients who suffer with tremors in their hands, due to a condition called essential tremor, may find relief with a novel, non-invasive nerve stimulation device, according to preliminary trial results. The preliminary results are due to be presented in an abstract at the American Academy of Neurology’s 70th Annual Meeting (April 21–27, CA, USA).
Essential tremor is the most common type of tremor disorder, potentially affecting the hands, head and voice, and causing problems with conducting daily activities.
The abstract describes two randomized controlled studies: an in-clinic study that included 77 participants with essential tremor and an at-home study that included an additional 61 participants, similarly with essential tremor.
The participants received the stimulation via a wrist-worn neuromodulation device, developed by Cala Health, Inc. (CA, USA). This device stimulated the median and radial nerves and delivered a stimulation pattern tuned to interrupt the individual’s tremor.
For the in-clinic study, participants received one session of either the treatment stimulation or sham stimulation to the wrist of the hand with the more severe tremor. The tremor was evaluated before and after the session by a physician.
For the at-home study, participants received either the treatment stimulation, sham stimulation or their usual treatment. Those who received treatment stimulation had a minimum of two sessions a day for up to 1 month. Tremor severity was measured using sensors on the device before and after each therapy session.
Overall, 88% of the participants from the in-house study reported an improvement in their tremor after receiving the stimulation treatment, compared with 32% from the sham group.
Similarly, 89.5% of patients from the at-home study reported a reduction in tremor severity following treatment.
It is important to note, there were no serious side effects associated with the stimulation treatment. 3% of in-house study participants reported mild side-effect symptoms, including skin redness and irritation, which all resolved on their own.
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Study author Rajesh Pahwa, from the University of Kansas Medical Center (USA), concluded: “The study conducted in the clinic showed that treatment stimulation was safe and produced significant improvements in both physician-rated and patient-rated measures of tremor severity compared to sham stimulation. Our research suggests that this non-invasive therapy may offer meaningful relief from the symptoms of hand tremor for people with essential tremor.”
However, a limitation of the studies is that the therapy was tested only in small groups of participants, over short durations. Future studies will aim to investigate the effects of the device in larger sample sizes and for longer periods of time.