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Anyone Ever Hear of Musician's Focal Dystonia

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swestey
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:56 pm

Anyone Ever Hear of Musician's Focal Dystonia

Postby swestey » Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:56 am

I'm a flutist who has been diagnosed by a neurologist with musician's (or focal) dystonia. I have been playing for over 15 years, but all of a sudden my embouchure has started going berserk when playing the middle octave. I read a little bit about this online, but there isn't much information available. All the neurologist told me is that he has heard of it, he knows what it is, but he doesn't know how to treat it. He said he heard that sometimes it just goes away on its own after 5-10 years. Just what I wanted to hear!

Anyone have any information about this and/or how to treat it? Thanks so much.

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pied_piper
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Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: Anyone Ever Hear of Musician's Focal Dystonia

Postby pied_piper » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:01 pm

I can't really offer any advice, but I have read a bit about focal dystonia. Apparently, while it is a known condition that can affect a musician's embouchure or hands, successful treatment can be somewhat elusive. There are a few websites with some info and there are a few doctors and other practitioners who offer advice. Try some of these:

https://www.google.com/search?q=musicia ... +treatment
https://www.google.com/search?q=flutist+focal+dystonia
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

swestey
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:56 pm

Re: Anyone Ever Hear of Musician's Focal Dystonia

Postby swestey » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:11 am

Thank you, pied_piper. I'm also trying some physical therapy to strengthen my embouchure. Weird condition!

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pied_piper
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Location: Virginia

Re: Anyone Ever Hear of Musician's Focal Dystonia

Postby pied_piper » Sun Mar 19, 2017 3:05 pm

You are quite welcome. I hope your focal dystonia is resolved soon.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

fluteguy18
Posts: 2293
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 3:11 pm

Re: Anyone Ever Hear of Musician's Focal Dystonia

Postby fluteguy18 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:44 am

I've unfortunately read quite a lot about performance injuries because they ended my playing career.... combined with a bad reaction to an antibiotic that damaged my wrist tendons...

In most cases, Focal Dystonia is permanent/semi-permanent. It's where the insulation between two neurological pathways has worn through and the signals overlap in the brain. Basically you've got some of your wires crossed. The only way to fix it is to literally rewire your brain. It's possible, and there are several noteworthy cases.... the Principal Oboist of Chicago for example just recovered from it and won his old job back. As to how, I don't know. It's possible, but uncommon.

If I were you... and I've been in your situation before... Hope for the best, work towards recovery, but prepare for the worst. The damage to my hands was permanent, and my playing career was over as it had barely started. So I turned their weak and fragile nature into an asset instead of a negative aspect. I'm now a flute tech and a piccolo maker. The weakness in my hands makes my touch very light. I can feel leaks down to about .0001" to .0003" (yes other techs. Not a typo. 1-3 ten-thousandths).

Good luck! It's heartbreaking, but you're in good company. :)


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