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Keywords:

  • focal dystonia;
  • musician's cramp;
  • transcranial direct current stimulation;
  • neuroplasticity

Abstract

Musician's dystonia (MD) is a task-specific movement disorder with a loss of voluntary motor control in highly trained movements. Defective inhibition on different levels of the central nervous system is involved in its pathophysiology. Cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation (ctDCS) diminishes excitability of the motor cortex and improves performance in overlearned tasks in healthy subjects. The aim of this study was to investigate whether ctDCS improves fine motor control in MD. Professional guitarists (n = 10) with MD played exercises before, directly after ctDCS, and 60 min after ctDCS. ctDCS (2 mA, 20 min) was applied on the primary motor cortex contralateral to the affected hand. Guitar exercises were video-documented and symptoms were evaluated by three independent experts. No beneficial effect of ctDCS on fine motor control was found for the entire group. However, motor control of one guitarist improved after stimulation. This patient suffered from arm dystonia, whereas the other guitarists suffered from hand dystonia. © 2009 Movement Disorder Society