Essential tremor (ET) is a condition that causes involuntary shaking in the elderly, making daily tasks incredibly difficult. From drinking out of a glass to opening kitchen cabinets, the consistent shivering of ET can relinquish your independence and impact your overall quality of life.
The good news is, there are several approaches to treatment, including medication and surgery. However, these options may not be suitable for all individuals, and may increase exposure to dangerous or uncomfortable side effects.
In this post, we’ll take a look at an alternative to these treatments: wrist weights and bracelets for tremors. Read on for an in-depth look at this approach to treatment, or use the links below to navigate the sections.
What Are Wrist Bracelets For Tremors?
A wrist weight for tremors, also called a weighted bracelet for tremors, is a type of assistive medical device designed to help reduce symptoms in individuals with persistent tremors. Wrist weights for tremors can be worn throughout the day to help patients perform tasks that are challenging to complete when tremors are active. Eating, for example, requires a somewhat steady hand to lift food from your plate to your mouth; likewise, drinking a glass of water can be hard to do when your hands, head, or limbs are shaking.
There are two ways wrist bracelets for tremors can help: weighted devices can steady the hands and arms to improve functionality, while other non-weighted wrist-worn devices alleviate tremor symptoms by stimulating nerves. Let’s take a closer look at these methods below.
How do Wrist Bracelets Improve Tremors?
As we mentioned, there are a few different ways wrist bracelets can help improve tremors: by weighing down and stabilizing, and by sending electrical signals to the brain, stimulating the nerves. Let’s consider each of these methods in more detail.
According to research published by the School of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, University of Puget Sound, a study of individuals with static brain lesions was done to evaluate how weighted arm bracelets worked to improve their tremor when performing tasks such as self-feeding. In the study, five individuals with a diverse set of diagnoses were videotaped with and without a weighted fabric wrist cuff during mealtime. Researchers measured the participants’ number of spills, usage of compensatory tactics, amount of food eaten, the participant’s self-rating, and the investigator’s assessment of the condition. Ultimately, the study found that all five participants showed improvement when they wore the weighted wrist cuff for tremors. Overall, participants took less time to finish a meal, made fewer spills, and some showed a general decrease in tremor symptoms. Additionally, the study found that the effectiveness of the treatment was related to the amount of weight applied to the wrist—meaning, the more weight, the more effective the wrist cuff was.
As for nerve-stimulating wrist devices for tremors, Cala Health is on the cutting edge of essential tremor research and treatment. The Cala Trio essential tremor bracelet activates nerves in the wrist with electrical stimulation. These nerves connect the wrist to central brain networks that cause hand tremor in people with essential tremor. The stimulation of nerves in the wrist interrupts the network function that causes hand tremor, resulting in a transient and measurable reduction in tremor in the treated hand.
3 Benefits of Using Wrist Cuffs For Tremors
Essential tremor can make everyday tasks hard to manage, negatively impacting your independence and peace of mind. Using wrist weights for tremors has the potential to provide relief from tremors, and as a result, help restore your quality of life. Weighted wrist cuffs for tremors have several applications that can help improve functionality as you perform tasks throughout your day. Some of the benefits of using wrist weights for tremor include:
1. Improve functionality when eating or drinking
Eating and drinking independently can be incredibly challenging tasks for individuals diagnosed with a movement disorder, such as essential tremor. However, there is evidence that suggests wrist weights can serve as a useful tool to minimize the presence of tremor in these instances.
A study conducted by the School of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, University of Puget Sound assessed the effectiveness of weighted wrist cuffs to reduce tremor symptoms while eating. During therapy, all five participants improved in one or more of the dependent variables. Under the weighted condition, the test showed the following statistically significant improvements: Participants 3, 4, and 5 took less time to get a bite; participants 4 and 5 spilled less; and participants 3 and 5 displayed less tremor. During the weighted condition, no participant showed a decrease in functional ability.
2. Increase stability when writing
From signing medical paperwork to writing a card for a loved one’s birthday, handwriting is another point of concern for many individuals dealing with essential tremor. Fortunately, there is evidence to support that using assistive devices, such as weighted bracelets, can make a positive impact.
In one study, participants were instructed to wear a non-invasive Transcutaneous Afferent Patterned Stimulation (TAPS) wrist neuromodulation device while completing specified assignments (i.e. handwriting, dialing a telephone, holding a cup of tea). Ultimate, 67% of patients’ handwriting improved while wearing the weighted device and 61% of patients demonstrated improvement when writing a handwritten letter.
3. Enhance independence and peace of mind
For many individuals, tremor has a profound impact on their emotional health and wellbeing. In fact, a study of 55 male veterans diagnosed with ET, 74% said their tremor made them feel ashamed, and 65% said they avoided social situations because of it. Although it is unclear whether these emotional shifts are a reaction to ET symptoms or neurological changes, addressing them is important.
The International Essential Tremor Foundation (IETF) suggests taking the following steps to approach the cognitive changes associated with ET:
- Talk about cognitive and emotional challenges with your neurologist
- With the help of your physician, identify medications or therapies that may improve physical and cognitive symptoms
- Consider discussing your diagnosis and challenges with a therapist to find copy mechanisms
- Continue engaging in social, mental, and physical activities when possible
What Other Treatments Are Available For Individuals With Hand Tremors?
Like most conditions, tremor treatment is unique to the individual and may involve a combination of therapies to be effective. Below, we’ll discuss additional treatment options for individuals with hand tremors.
In some cases, stressors, anxiety, and stimulants, such as caffeine, can exacerbate tremor symptoms. To help soothe symptoms, MedlinePlus.gov suggests avoiding caffeine, prioritizing sleep, and managing stress. Stress management is different for everyone, but adapting breathing exercises and relaxation techniques can help.
Physical therapy exercises are another method that can be used to reduce tremor symptoms. The following exercises are designed for individuals with Parkinsonian tremor, but may be effective in other forms of tremor as well.
- Place a tiny rubber ball in the palm of your hand and squeeze your fingers as tightly as possible around it. For a total of five seconds, stay in this position. Take a deep breath and repeat ten times.
- Using a light dumbbell, spread your hand and wrist. Place your hand and wrist over the edge of a table, palm side up. Place the weight in the palm of your hand then slowly lift and lower your wrist. Perform a sequence of 20 repetitions.
- Extend your open hand completely – palm all the way down – and hold your elbow straight when doing this move – repeat this exercise 20 times.
When you’re dealing with consistent tremors, even getting dressed in the morning or enjoying a cup of coffee can be difficult and discouraging. Assistive devices are designed to help individuals of all abilities perform tasks that may otherwise be challenging. MedlinePlus.gov recommends the following for individuals that have tremor:
- Using Velcro fasteners or button hooks on garments
- Using utensils with a wider handle when preparing or eating food
- Drinking from a sippy cup
- Using shoe horns and wearing slip-on shoes
Medication is a common approach to movement disorders such as essential tremor. However, it’s important to note that essential tremor medicine, like all pharmaceuticals, may cause side effects and may not be suited for every patient.
Medication used to help tremor symptoms in essential tremor includes:
- Botox Injections
You and your physician may consider surgery if your tremor is seriously debilitating and most therapies have failed to relieve your symptoms. Unlike the therapies listed above, surgical procedures carry a higher risk and are usually reserved for the most serious cases of ET.
Surgeries performed for essential tremor include:
- Deep-brain stimulation
- Focused ultrasound surgery
Cala Trio’s groundbreaking essential tremor bracelet is one example of non-pharmaceutical drug treatment. This system adjusts to your tremor by transmitting electrical signals to your wrist nerves. These signals improve hand tremor symptoms by interacting with central brain networks, helping you to complete everyday tasks and regain your quality of life.
Get Started With Cala Trio
Essential tremor can turn basic, everyday tasks into intimidating functions. With Cala Trio, you can experience tremor reduction and regain the sense of control and quality of life you’ve been looking for.