Selected Physical Characteristics and Playing-Related Musculoskeletal Problems in Adolescent String Instrumentalists
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PURPOSE: Music research has investigated the prevalence of playing-related musculoskeletal problems in adults and children, but the prevalence in adolescents has not been established. String instrumentalists report high problem rates, though it is unclear whether rates vary between upper and lower strings in adolescent instrumentalists. Further, there is limited evidence for the association between physical characteristics and playing problems in this group of musicians. METHODS: Seventy-six adolescent string musicians from the West Australian Youth Orchestras were surveyed. Their experience of playing problems, both symptoms (PRMS) and disorders (PRMD), within the last month and measurements of body mass index, hand span, and joint mobility (Beighton scale) were obtained. Prevalence rates were calculated and compared between upper and lower string instrumentalists using a chi-squared test. Logistic regression examined the association of physical measures with playing problems, adjusting for confounding factors. RESULTS: Within the last month, 73.5% participants reported experiencing a PRMS and 26.5% reported experiencing a PRMD. There was no significant difference between the problem rates in upper and lower string instrumentalists. After adjusting for potential confounders, an increasing count of hypermobile joints remained significantly associated with problems (OR 1.76, CI 1.02 to 3.04, p=0.042). CONCLUSIONS: This study found playing problems are common in adolescent string instrumentalists, though rates did not differ between upper and lower string players. Joint hypermobility was associated with playing-related problems in adolescent musicians. Early identification of problems in this group of maturing musicians may help prevent disabling disorders and maximize performance.
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