Medical conference investigates disorder affecting professional musicians

Posted on: March 15, 2012

“In 2000 Dr. Frank R. Wilson, a neurologist, suggested in a paper, ‘Glenn Gould’s Hand,’ that Gould had a problem little understood in his time, least of all by him,” writes James Oestreich in Tuesday’s (3/13) New York Times. “Today, though it is by no means fully understood, the disorder is called focal dystonia. Dr. Wilson read a condensed version of that paper on Saturday at the Grand Hyatt New York during the two-day ‘Musician’s Summit’ presented by the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation and its program, Musicians With Dystonia” on March 9 and 10. “The 19th-century composer Robert Schumann was mentioned in passing on Friday for his fingering difficulties at the keyboard, and his case was analyzed more closely on Saturday…. Musician’s dystonia most commonly affects the hand, causing fingers to curl under or jut out inappropriately. It occurs not only among pianists but also among string and woodwind players, guitarists and percussionists.… A final session, devoted to embouchure dystonia, produced harrowing tales from two former tuba players and a former French horn player, Glen Estrin, who with [neurologist Steven] Frucht founded Musicians With Dystonia in 1999. It has been ‘amazingly rewarding work,’ Mr. Estrin said, and “the increased awareness of the problem is stunning.’ ”

Posted March 15, 2012