Case 5 – Worsening Tremor

You are seeing Ms. Wilmington, a 63 year old woman, in your outpatient clinic. She tells you that her old tremor is getting worse. Take a focused history of her complaint and perform a focused physical exam.


  • Onset of tremor
  • Onset of worsening of the tremor
  • Clarifies if tremor occurs during rest or activity (rest)
  • Difficulty performing specific tasks due to tremor (writing)
  • Change in gait – slowing, fewer steps, less arm swing
  • Stability of gait
  • Need for assistive devices for ambulation
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills
  • Posture changes
  • Difficulty initiating movement
  • Psychomotor retardation
  • Change in affect
  • Difficulty with short term memory
  • Change in voice
  • Effect on ADLs
  • Effect on IADLs
  • Personal history of a psychotic disorder
  • Family history of Parkinson’s and/or essential tremour
  • Current medications
  • Addresses patient’s concerns as to what is causing these symptoms
  • Inquires about symptoms of depression
  • Patient’s concerns about independence

Physical Examination


  • Measures orthostatic changes – comments on hypotension
  • Inspects for masked face (none)
  • Comments on stooped posture
  • Comments on presence of resting tremor
  • Comments on altered speech

Motor Examination

  • Tests tone in upper extremities – comments on presence of cogwheeling
  • Tests for essential tremor, likely not present
  • Tests for intent tremor, likely not present

Sensory Examination

  • Tests reflexes (normal)
  • Tests for primitive reflexes associated with Dementia – palmomental and glabellar
  • States that a sensory examination should be performed, though it would be normal

Gait Examination

  • Evaluates patient getting up from chair, comments on bradykinesia
  • Comments on shuffling gait
  • Comments on stability of gait
  • Comments on festinating gait and lack of arm swing
  • Performs retropulsion test (positive)
Case 5 – Worsening Tremor