Alternating Thalamic Deep Brain Stimulation for Essential Tremor: A Trial to Reduce Habituation

Mara Seier, Amie Hiller, Joseph Quinn, Charles Murchison, Matthew Brodsky, Shannon Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: DBS in the ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) of the thalamus has been a revolutionary treatment for patients with essential tremor (ET) by reducing tremor. Unfortunately, some patients develop habituation to DBS and thus experience reduced efficacy and loss of tremor control. There are no standardized methods of addressing habituation to DBS. We propose alternating stimulation patterns as a way to reduce habituation. Methods: This was a randomized, placebo-controlled trial for patients with VIM DBS for ET. Patients were randomized to either experimental treatment arm of alternating stimulation patterns on a weekly basis or standard care arm of continuous stimulation settings for 12 weeks. Primary outcome was change in the performance subscale of The Essential Tremor Rating Assessment Scale (TETRAS), which was performed at initial visit and 12-week follow-up. Secondary outcome included change in the activities of daily living subscale of TETRAS. Results: Twenty-two patients were enrolled in the trial, and 16 were analyzed at follow-up. Experimental treatment subjects displayed sustained tremor control compared to standard care, as measured by the change in TETRAS performance subscale (–0.6 vs. 6.7 point change, respectively) with a 7.3 difference between the arms (P = 0.006). Conclusion: Alternating stimulation patterns on a weekly basis for ET patients with VIM DBS reduced habituation in this pilot study. This study suggests that exposure to different stimulation groups may maintain better tremor control compared to constant stimulation parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-626
Number of pages7
JournalMovement Disorders Clinical Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • VIM
  • deep brain stimulation
  • essential tremor
  • habituation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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