SOMERS, N.Y. In her later years, the famous actress Katharine Hepburn suffered from a progressive neurological disorder known as essential tremor (ET). In fact, ET strikes about 10 million people in the United States, said Barlow Humphreys of the Somers Tremor Group .
It has a very low profile as far as the public is concerned, but there are twice as many people with ET as there are with Parkinsons, he said.
Symptoms include nodding heads, trembling hands and quavering voices. ET can also affect the legs.
It can disable people at any age, but many get it in their late 40s, Humphreys said. Seventy percent of the time, its genetic. Its something thats socially isolating. It can be a challenge for people of all ages to stay involved in social relations.
Essential tremor is the most common type of tremor, and its cause is unknown, according to the National Institutes of Health .
Its been 100 years since it was diagnosed, Humphreys said, but there is still no scientific research in curing or abating the problem. One thing that is very effective is tai chi chuan. It helps people with their muscles, their sense of balance, their activity level and their social relations.
The Somers Tremor Group will hold one of its bimonthly meetings at the Somers Library on Friday, March 23, from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. The first hour of the meeting will be devoted to tai chi instruction with master teacher George Chen.
The second portion of the meeting, beginning at 3 p.m. will feature a presentation by Veronique Enos and Jay Gromek of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research.
There is no fee, although a $10 contribution from those who attend the tai chi session would be appreciated. Everyone is welcome to attend and learn more about essential tremor.
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