Essential tremor - have you find a way to minimize / overcome its effects in electronic related activities?

Thread Starter

atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
4,771
Thinking about the common activities related to electronics like tool handling, soldering, typing, drawing, etc, my question to those affected by essential tremor currently following a well-defined treatment: have you been able to avoid its effects? How and to what extent?

Please note that I have NO interest in discussing the medical aspect or the treatment itself in this thread.

Thanks for any reply.
 

Lo_volt

Joined Apr 3, 2014
317
I've had shaky hands for years, but only recently diagnosed as essential tremors. Blah! It's recently gotten worse so that I'm looking at treatment via medications. Blah again!

In soldering I have developed techniques where I anchor my hands using a finger to the benchtop or up against something solid.

I'm right-handed so I usually hold solder or wires in my left hand. Left hand also is distinctly worse, but as with my right hand, I use a finger or two down to the bench to anchor the hand. When I'm really lucky I can coordinate the shake with applying solder and pulling it away.

I've got no answer to writing. Usually writing in quick strokes doesn't allow the shake to affect the pen too much. Typing is easier and better yet, my tremors don't affect mouse movements.

I have found one of the most frustrating aspects to be using touch screens, especially smart phones. Way too often, a touch is interpreted as a swipe. Either a web page scrolls or worse yet a notification goes away before I've read it.
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
8,255
Hola, Agustín! ... nice to see a thread opened by you, my friend.

Yes, like everyone at or above the age of 60, I too struggle with my tremors and my pulse while doing precision work. But it's all a matter of technique. It's always been, at least for me, about knowing where to rest one's hands while the fingers do the work. And knowing where to rests one's arms while the hands do the work ... you know what I mean?
 

Thread Starter

atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
4,771
@Lo_volt @cmartinez @dl324

Thanks for replying.

You both seem to have managed to control things. Good for you!!

Not my case; after damaging beyond recovery the traces of a very small PCB while soldering I realized that I had a serious problem. A friend of mine, graduated as OT, suggested wearing kind of a basic "gauntlet" full of tiny (bearing) balls to "load" my deft hand (right). The bad part of it was that everything but the three fingers stayed "anchored" to the bench with the soldering iron moving wildly, out of control. The more I tried to hold it steady, the worse it got. (BTW the more I experience tremor situations, I am more and more convinced that it is the equivalent of a control loop in overshooting). IOW, a badly tuned PID of sorts, Agustín.

Drawing with Corel Draw or typing became a hard task. The worst: typing text on my mobile phone where I fail frequently when repeating the same key.

My last project, was postponed (forever?) when I realized that I had no way to resolder part of the wiring of a somewhat complex panel for visual effects. Planning to try once more.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,167
My last project, was postponed (forever?)
I am sure I join all of your friends here in hoping this is not true and your renewed effort will bring results that return you to completing the projects you enjoy.

I feel very fortunate not to suffer from tremors, but I can certainly have “shaky days” due to lack of sleep, feeling unwell, and the like. So, even though this isn’t of the magnitude you are experiencing, it has caused me to develop coping strategies for fine work when my hands won’t cooperate.

For me, it comes down to one basic idea: “grounding” my hand(s). That is, finding some way to operate with hands supported by a solid surface and depending on finger motions and wrist rotation for positioning and mobility. Sometimes this requires careful planning because it does limit the range of motion—until I reposition. So I have to make sure that the starting position is good for reaching the end when the action can‘t be stopped in the middle and restarted.

One thing I have heard can help a lot of people (and you probably already know about) is weighted gloves. Searching on Amazon brings up tens of options, if not hundreds (there are lots of duplicates). They are purpose-made for tremor reduction and don’t cost much so if you haven’t tried maybe it‘s worth a shot.

Glad to hear you are not ready to give up, and wishing you the best of outcomes!
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
5,048
I can't have my soldering iron hand waving in the air. I have to find a "rest" for the side of my hand. Just holding the iron steadies my fingers pretty well but if I don't steady my hhand,it roams about. Same with putting wire and components into "loops". Just poking at them with my free hand is about like trying to thread a needle, it just ain't gonna happen unless I get really lucky. So, I steady my hand by finding a rest for it and then I can poke the wire in the hole.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
5,048
No, I'm not taking any medication. From what I've read, I'll put up with what I have rather than the meds. My handwriting is sloppy as is my drawing. I keep a small ruler handy for sketching straight lines when needed. But then, I've never had very good hand eye coordination. Always got F's in handwriting in grammar school which is why I took typing in High School but never was very fast at it although I am a touch typist. Started having essential tremors in my 40's and just put up with it the best I can. At least it doesn't seem to get any worse over the last 10 years or so.
Oh yes, using a hammer is out. I can't hit in the same place twice. Using tools takes both hands, one to hold the tool and one to place it where it needs to go. But I get by and have learned to adapt to it even if it is frustrating.
 
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I wonder if some sort of pantograph arrangement would help. If the soldering iron tip was located at the central pivot point with the end nearest to it was on a gimbal then a small movement of the iron tip would translate to a large movement of the hand at the point furthest from the iron?
I’ve been thinking of making something like this to solder surface mount components but it might be of more general use…
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
30,817
Ok all you smarts on AAC. Where there is a need there is an invention in the making.
How about an anti-tremor soldering iron?

There is an anti-tremor spoon.

Also this:
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
9,163
I have weights that wrap around my wrist and attach with Velcro that are used in physical therapy. I put one on the arm holding the soldering iron. With the added weight, the tremors seem to not be so bad. I do have to rest more often.
 

fourtytwo

Joined May 16, 2022
13
A very interesting thread and some good ideas, I am 70 this year and maybe not doing so much soldering BUT my big problem is the mouse!!
I find it very hard to position in fine increments, more so left/right than up down. Holding my wrist hard down on the edge of the desk helps but sometimes I just have to give up and try later (it comes and goes).
Maybe I don't do as much soldering because I am subconsciously avoiding projects that would involve it, 2 years ago I was soldering 64 lead tqfp's but now I have trouble altering vero-board projects I built in the past. Fortunately the availability of ready made modules is ever increasing so now instead of building a processor and peripherals from scratch I can generally find a module to do the job (unfortunately not so with complex analogue).
I also had to give up on N gauge (2mm/1ft) railway modelling due to the shakes, I just could not manage small things anymore, I thought I was done with railway modelling and sold everything up a few years ago but the itch started again so now I model in double the size (OO/HO) and that is ok as long as I stay away from scenic details.
Sorry to ramble on but I recognized several fellow sufferers and it seems just another way our lives change as we get older (like the multiple heart-attacks etc).
What do the kids say these days......suck it up :)
 

killivolt

Joined Jan 10, 2010
835
https://www.healthline.com/health/treating-shaking-hands#therapy

(Deep Brain Stimulation) is a surgical procedure used to treat tremors. During a DBS procedure, a surgeon places electronic devices called electrodes in your brain that receive an electronic signal that interferes with the brain activity responsible for the tremor.
The signal is transmitted from a device that’s implanted under the skin of your upper chest. DBS is currently only recommended for people with advanced or severe limb tremor.
The site also mentioned the same as above. For some people, wearing weights, increase the weight of the object your holding or specially designed gloves or utensils.

kv
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
5,048
He went from palsies to tremors. What I am calling tremors is not the entire hand and arm shaking like a grand mal seizure but the inability to hold your fingers absolutely still. When the entire hand starts shaking and wobbling around it's more than just Essential Tremors and is most likely the onset of Parkinson's Disease which my 92-year-old father-in-law is now starting to experience. That definitely needs medical treatment with pharmacology intervention. Also, I am right-handed but my left hand is worse than my right. And it seems the harder I try not to shake, the more I do shake. Go figure... And yes, all muscles are controlled by the brain which is connected to them by the spinal cord and I have significant Degenerative Disk Disease in my spinal column. I've already had vertebrae C4-C7 jacked apart, remains of the collapsed disks removed, spurs impinging on my spinal column removed, opening up of the narrowing (stenosis) in the vertebral arches that the column passes through, and cadaver bone implants replacing the disks and fusing the entire C4-C7 section of my spine. Which means I have very limited neck movement and still have other areas that could use surgery but not unless it becomes absolutely necessary. I have also lost skin sensation starting around mid-thigh and completely below knee level which handicaps my balance and mobility. So take yer pick, brain, spine, or muscle... Or, then it could be Endocrine...
 
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