Get access

Long-term outcome of focal dystonia in string instrumentalists

Authors

  • Stephan Schuele MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurology and Medical Center for Performing Artists, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
    • Department of Neurology and Medical Center for Performing Artists/S 91, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44195 USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Richard J. Lederman MD, PhD

    1. Department of Neurology and Medical Center for Performing Artists, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

  • A videotape accompanies this article.

Abstract

This study describes the clinical characteristics and long-term outcome in string instrumentalists with focal task-specific dystonia. We present the results of a follow-up telephone survey of 21 violin and viola players with focal dystonia. Eighteen musicians responded to the questionnaire. Information on long-term outcome was available on average 13.8 years after onset of symptoms. Main complaints were playing-related loss of control and involuntary movements affecting the fingering hand in 16 and the bow arm in 5 patients. In 18 patients (86%), signs of abnormal posture could be detected by watching them play their instrument. Treatment attempts included nerve decompression, physical therapy, retraining, and anticholinergic medication. In selected patients, botulinum toxin injections or splint devices were offered. Only 38% of the performing artists were able to maintain their professional careers, among them none with bow arm dystonia. Focal dystonia may affect the fingering hand or bow arm in violin and viola instrumentalists. Treatment benefit is limited and in more than half of the patients, dystonia leads to the end of their musical career. © 2003 Movement Disorder Society

Ancillary