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Focal Dystonia - A Neurological Disorder Affecting Musicians


Copyright 2024, Mark Alan Wade

Primary Author: Estrin, G.
Journal Title: International Musician
Date Published: Oct-01
Language: English
Category: Nervous Disorders
Key Words: dystonia medical instrumental musician neurological disorder
Full Citation: Estrin, Glen, and Steven Frucht. Focal Dystonia- A Neurological Disorder Affecting Musicians. International Musician 99, no. 10 (October 2001): 18-9.
Full Abstract: The symptoms of musicians' focal dystonia in musical terms are: increasing loss of control, specific tasks, such as legato playing in brass instrumentalists, are only affected, and a sense of weakness in the involved muscle area. The disorder is usually painless, without numbness or tingling. For brass instrumentalists, embouchure problems develop, making sustaining notes difficult and visible involuntary pulling of the corners of the mouth. Increased rest or practice does not affect the slow decline in performance. Playing the instrument triggers the muscle spasms that are not present when at rest. Dystonia is a disorder of motor control that begins in the brain. Presently there is no cure, though treatments are available. Injections of botulinum toxin may help deaden the nerves of the over affected muscles; however, it will not allow musicians to regain the control needed to completely regain their former playing level.