Is it possible to go through almost your entire life without realizing what kind of hand tremors you have? Unfortunately—yes, it is. As essential tremor is not widely known, despite being the most common movement disorder, it can be decades before someone receives a diagnosis. The Essential Tremor Education Center would like to share the story of Jack Plant, who went through most of his life with a hand tremor before he heard of essential tremor.
Jack Plant first noticed his tremors as a child. He didn’t know what they were at the time—while he could hardly keep his letters between the guidelines when writing, he just assumed that he had poor handwriting. The tremor progressed as he grew older, although he was still steady enough to play sports. His tremor was prominent enough when he was excited, however, that he was given the nickname “shaker” from his friends.
He wasn’t the only one in his family with a tremor. His father and uncle also had a tremor, and everyone assumed it was Parkinson’s because they were never diagnosed with essential tremor. Jack never assumed that he himself had any sort of movement disorder until someone had mentioned essential tremor to him during work. Jack was in his 50s. This was his first time hearing about essential tremor.
After unsuccessfully trying medication for symptomatic relief, Jack searched the internet for essential tremor news. He stumbled across trials for MR-guided focused ultrasound, a noninvasive treatment that uses focused ultrasound to lesion the affected area of the brain. Unfortunately, Jack had missed his window to get into the trials—the studies were concluded, and the FDA already approved the procedure. He started looking for doctors who were performing the procedure. With some financial help from a friend, he was able to undergo treatment.
During an episode of Tremor Chats with Doug Couch, Jack shows his before and after results. Before treatment, he attempted to draw a spiral but couldn’t keep his hand steady. Three months after treatment, his hand barely shook. He notes, “It looks like two different people.”
If you want to hear more about Jack’s story, you can watch his appearance on Tremor Chats with Doug Couch here. If you’re currently seeking treatment for hand tremors, the Essential Tremor Education Center is here to offer support and answer any questions you have about essential tremor. You can talk to our educators today by calling 844-NO-TREMOR.