Tremor Gram – September 2018

Join Us for Our Sept. 12 Teleconference
Join us tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 12) for an essential tremor teleconference. The topic is: Surgical Options for Essential Tremor. Here are the times:
  • Noon (12 p.m.) Pacific Time
  • 1 p.m. Mountain Time
  • 2 p.m. Central Time
  • 3 p.m. Eastern Time
Our speaker will be Dr. Gordon Baltuch, director of the Center for Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. Unlike past IETF teleconferences, you do NOT need to register to participate. Simply call the conference line at your start time (above) and key in the conference code.
 
Conference Line: 1-800-719-7514
Conference Code: 618616
We have a limited call-in capacity of 500 callers. If you are not able to join us, you can listen in later because we will record the teleconference and post it on our website. Check this link later in the week to see if it’s posted.

 

Congrats to Our 2018 Research Grant Recipients
researcher_science_tube.jpgEach year the IETF awards grants to researchers who are conducting studies to lead to better treatment options and a cure for essential tremor. To date, the IETF has awarded nearly $800,000 in research funding.
Congratulations to our 2018 IETF Research Grant recipients! Here is an overview of their research studies:
 
Optogenetic Interrogation of Cerebellar Circuitry of a Novel Mouse Model of Essential Tremor.
Sponsoring Institution: Columbia University
Principal Investigator: 
Sheng-Han Kuo, MD
Overview: The major obstacle for the effective therapy development for essential tremor is the unclear brain structural alterations that leads to tremor. To overcome this obstacle, we have previously identified structural alterations in the cerebellum, the brain region important for motor coordination, in essential tremor patients. Now, we will determine how this brain pathology can lead to tremor by establishing a mouse model with similar pathological alterations in the cerebellum. We will use the novel neuroscience tools to specifically silence the neuronal activities within the cerebellum in this mouse model and we will assess how these manipulations can influence tremor. The results of our proposal will establish a new platform to screen therapies for essential tremor and will advance our knowledge of essential tremor.
A Pilot Study for Quantitative Assessment of Gait in Essential Tremor Using Wireless Sensors; Potential Diagnostic Tool and Measure of Progression
Sponsoring Institution: University of Kansas Medical Center
Principal Investigator: 
Vibhash Sharma, MD
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. In this study, we 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.

 

IETF Advocates for a Change in the 2019 Physician Fee Schedule
The International Essential Tremor Foundation is urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reconsider a proposal in the 2019 Physician Fee Schedule to cut and consolidate Medicare evaluation and management services. IETF was one of a number of organizations around the country who signed a letter drafted by the American Academy of Neurology, urging the CMS to reconsider this action. Some of the ramifications of the proposal include:
  • Cutting payments for physician office visits that are currently reimbursed at higher levels than routine office visits, could penalize doctors who treat sicker patients or patients with multiple conditions.
  • Creating more costs to patients. This would happen if, to offset the reimbursement cuts, physicians spend less time with their patients and limit each office visit, forcing patients to possibly return for another visit.
One of the IETF’s goals is to advocate for changes in legislation to advance federal, state and community policies and programs that benefit people with essential tremor. A draft of this letter can be viewed online.