If you have ever been to a concert, listened to a musician, or even watched a movie or TV show, you are likely experiencing the results of many years of practice by the musicians involved. Musicians become experts through practice. This means repetition, and lots of it. When playing their instrument(s), musicians repeat the same upper body movements over and over again, often in awkward or uncomfortable positions. Whenever the body is stressed in this way, there is a risk of developing a Playing Related Musculoskeletal Disorder, or PRMD. Unfortunately, PRMDs are all too common among professional and student musicians. They can have devastating effects on a musician’s physical and mental health, financial stability, and career.
Fortunately, hand therapists specialize in injuries and disorders of the upper extremity, including shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hands. These occupational and physical therapists work with musicians to improve PRMD symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling. The therapist can create an individualized rehabilitation program to address the musician’s specific needs, so that they can continue making music.
These are some common components of a hand therapy program for an injured musician:
- Posture and movement analysis, particularly when playing their instrument(s)
- Individualized home exercise program to address the musician’s specific muscle imbalances and/or area(s) of nerve compression
- Neuromuscular reeducation so that the musician can learn the most optimal approach to playing their instrument(s) for decreased pain and improved ease of performance
- Manual therapy or modalities such as heat therapy to reduce pain and address specific areas of concern
- Creation of an individualized practice plan so that the musician can safely return to their previous practice and performance schedule
Hand therapy can be beneficial for any musician who is experiencing symptoms that are impeding their ability to perform at the desired level. At Milliken Hand Rehabilitation Center, we work with musicians in a range of ages and skill levels, from middle school students to professionals many years into their career. If you are a musician that could benefit from therapy with an expert, speak to your provider about a referral to the Milliken Hand Rehabilitation Center.