Stimulating muscles may improve musician's dystonia

Dec 26, 2007

Therapy that stimulates the hand muscles may help treat the condition called musician’s dystonia, a movement disorder that causes muscles spasms in musicians, according to a study published in the December 26, 2007, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Musician’s dystonia occurs in musicians who have practiced particular complicated movements for years. The muscle spasms are usually painless and generally occur only when playing the instrument.

For the study, researchers applied low-amplitude vibration to the hand muscles in 24 people: six who had musician’s dystonia, six professional musicians with no dystonia, six healthy non-musicians, and six people with writer’s cramp, which is another type of dystonia that occurs in people while they write.

Using transcranial magnetic stimulation, the researchers evaluated the reaction in the sensorimotor area of the brain back to the muscle during vibration of a single hand muscle. In healthy people, the vibration of a muscle increases the amount of brain messages back to the muscle and at the same time reduces the amount of messages to muscles that did not receive vibration. In people with musician’s dystonia, vibration in any one hand muscle increases the amount of messages to all hand muscles. In writer’s cramp, vibration to one muscle has no effect on any muscle.

Now, in an intervention that lasts only 15 minutes, muscle vibration was applied to a thumb muscle, and the participant’s attention was either directed on that muscle itself or away from it. The reaction of the brain’s sensorimotor areas to the muscles was then tested again using transcranial magnetic stimulation.

“Our hope is that stimulation can retrain how the brain responds,” said study author Karin Rosenkranz, MD, with UCL Institute of Neurology in London, United Kingdom.

The study found that the vibration intervention in which subjects had to attend to their thumb muscle tended to restore a more normal pattern in the sensorimotor area of the brain in people with musician’s dystonia. This effect was less pronounced in the people with writer’s cramp.

“More research is needed to see if prolonged use of stimulation can improve hand motor function,” Rosenkranz said. “These results also suggest that the underlying mechanism of the disorder may be different in musician’s dystonia and writer’s cramp.”

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

22 hours ago

It's pretty hard to find a novel way to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by now, but two-time Grammy-winning rapper Pras Michel, a founding member of the Fugees, has done it—getting his dousing in the center ...

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

Aug 27, 2014

U.S. medical device maker Medtronic is building stronger ties to Europe, a couple months after announcing a $42.9 billion acquisition that involves moving its main executive offices across the Atlantic, where it can get a ...

User comments : 0