Peripheral electrical stimulation to reduce pathological tremor: a review

Alejandro Pascual-Valdunciel, Grace W. Hoo, Simon Avrillon, Filipe Oliveira Barroso, Jennifer G. Goldman, Julio C. Hernandez-Pavon, José L. Pons*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Interventions to reduce tremor in essential tremor (ET) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) clinical populations often utilize pharmacological or surgical therapies. However, there can be significant side effects, decline in effectiveness over time, or clinical contraindications for these interventions. Therefore, alternative approaches must be considered and developed. Some non-pharmacological strategies include assistive devices, orthoses and mechanical loading of the tremorgenic limb, while others propose peripheral electrical stimulation. Specifically, peripheral electrical stimulation encompasses strategies that activate motor and sensory pathways to evoke muscle contractions and impact sensorimotor function. Numerous studies report the efficacy of peripheral electrical stimulation to alter tremor generation, thereby opening new perspectives for both short- and long-term tremor reduction. Therefore, it is timely to explore this promising modality in a comprehensive review. In this review, we analyzed 27 studies that reported the use of peripheral electrical stimulation to reduce tremor and discuss various considerations regarding peripheral electrical stimulation: the stimulation strategies and parameters, electrodes, experimental designs, results, and mechanisms hypothesized to reduce tremor. From our review, we identified a high degree of disparity across studies with regard to stimulation patterns, experimental designs and methods of assessing tremor. Having standardized experimental methodology is a critical step in the field and is needed in order to accurately compare results across studies. With this review, we explore peripheral electrical stimulation as an intervention for tremor reduction, identify the limitations and benefits of the current state-of-the-art studies, and provide ideas to guide the development of novel approaches based on the neural circuitries and mechanical properties implied in tremor generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number33
JournalJournal of neuroengineering and rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Afferent fibers
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Essential tremor
  • Neural circuitry
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stimulation parameters
  • Tremor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Rehabilitation


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