Musician's Dystonia or Focal Hand Dystonia Essay

Musician's Dystonia or Focal Hand Dystonia Essay

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Musician’s dystonia, or Focal Hand Dystonia, is a condition that is just barely understood by today’s medical field. The cause is unsure and treatment thus far has only proved temporary. So what causes Focal Dystonia? How did the condition earn the title of “musician’s cramp” and how can it be cured or prevented? Most excessive motor training affects the musculoskeletal system, but, somehow, this injury takes place in the brain.
First, what is Musician’s Dystonia? Otherwise known as Focal Hand Dystonia, musician’s cramp, or “the yips”, it is a complex movement ailment that is characterized by involuntary contractions of certain muscles or muscle groups. It affects individuals who do skillful, highly attended activities with their hands. People afflicted generally engaged in a repetitive activity across a span of years – the playing of instruments being the prime example. It is generally a painless condition, but one that impedes regular movement, therefore hindering one’s ability to achieve essential tasks, such as playing a musical instrument. The Cortical Homunculus, or the primary sensory cortex, is a sensory map of your body. This map is responsible for the reception of perceptible sensory information, or the sense of touch, as well as the implementation of motor movements. In other words, this motor center of the brain processes and initiates motor functions. Each body part is intended to have a distinct and well-defined spot on the map. In the brain of someone with focal hand dystonia, the organization of the individual fingers becomes blurred or distorted. Therefore, the brain has difficulty differentiating between the fingers. The symptoms include the hands or fingers failing to respond to commands or reacting in unintenti...


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...nstate the correct hand representation as that which caused the problem. Consequently, commitment is essential. With sensory motor retuning, the musician works with a physical therapist that combines the use of a splint with exercises. The splint is placed on the hand and binds the unaffected fingers in a resting position, forcing the dystonic finger to move through a series of exercises. Both physical therapies have proved effective.
To conclude, excessive motor training not only harms the musculoskeletal system, but potentially causes permanent nerve and sensory damage. Proper use and rehabilitation of muscles and joints is extremely important and could possibly save careers or passions. Never push through fatigue, commit to healthy habits, and practice in stages. Following these steps can help one side-step dystonia and continue to liberate their creative powers.

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