Tremor in normal adults: A population-based study of 1158 adults in the Faroe Islands

Elan D. Louis, Monica Ferrer, Eina H. Eliasen, Shahin Gaini, Maria Skaalum Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


There are virtually no population-based data on tremor in normal individuals. Using a population-based sample of 1158 normal adults ages 40–98 years in the Faroe Islands, we characterized the extent of normal action tremor across age and gender strata. Participants drew two Archimedes spirals with each hand, and tremor was systematically quantified by a senior movement disorder neurologist using a reliable and valid ordinal rating scale (ratings = 0–3). Tremor was nearly universal - 1145 (98.9%) participants had a total mean spiral score > 0. Older age was associated with more tremor (p < .001) and spiral scores were higher in males than females (p < .001). The proportion of individuals with a spiral rating ≥ 1.5 (i.e., more than mild tremor) was low (1.8% - 8.5%); however, this value reached 19.6% in left-hand spirals of males ≥70 years old. In this population-based study of more than one thousand normal adults, the vast bulk (i.e., 98.9%) had tremor on spiral drawing. In general, the tremor was mild. The proportion of individuals with tremor above the mild range varied across age and gender strata. These extensive data may be used as a gold standard for defining normal levels of tremor within adult populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-174
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
StatePublished - May 15 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Epidemiology
  • Essential tremor
  • Handwriting
  • Normal
  • Population
  • Tremor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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