Scientists develop new way of measuring MS tremor

11 September 2012

Scientists develop new way of measuring MS tremor

Dr Ben Stansfield

A new way of measuring the limb tremor which affects people with Multiple Sclerosis is being tested by a GCU research team.

The MS Society has awarded Project Supervisor Dr Ben Stansfield and his team £74,966 to fund the three-year study.

Upper limb tremor affects around 30 per cent of people who live with MS. The tremor can make it difficult to complete everyday tasks independently and usually worsens as the condition progresses.

The “quantifying upper limb tremor in MS under daily living conditions to inform treatment with dynamic Lycra compression garments” project will recruit around 40 people from the Douglas Grant Rehabilitation Unit in Ayrshire.

They will wear an ‘accelerometer’, or motion sensor, on their wrists which will measure the extent of the tremor in the upper limbs.

The new method will be used to study whether the wearing of Lycra garments helps reduce the problem.

Dr Stansfield, from the GCU’s Active Living Research Group in the Institute for Applied Health Research, said there is currently no way of measuring tremor under normal living conditions, with professionals instead reliant on clinical tests and questionnaires.

He said: “We don’t want to bring people to the lab to see how they are doing. That doesn’t tell us the real story.  We want to see how they’re doing in their home – what is called free living.”

He said the new method could ultimately lead to different types of tremor being classified, allowing medical professionals to better match treatments to symptoms.

“Allowing clinicians to understand which treatments are really effective benefits patients in the long run. For example, there is already some limited evidence to suggest that wearing Lycra over the affected joint can help and we will be testing that intervention as part of this project. “

Dr Jenny Preston, Consultant Occupational Therapist and a co-investigator on the project, emphasised the importance of clinical collaboration for academics.  "My joint role as GCU academic and NHS practitioner has provided a vital link, ensuring the relevance of the academic enquiry to clinical practice."

"This is an excellent opportunity for clinicians and researchers to work together to make a difference for people with MS."


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