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: Exploring 3-D printing to make organs for transplants

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tidal forces gave moon its shape, according to new analysis

28 minutes ago

The shape of the moon deviates from a simple sphere in ways that scientists have struggled to explain. A new study by researchers at UC Santa Cruz shows that most of the moon's overall shape can be explained by taking into ...

Mapping the optimal route between two quantum states

28 minutes ago

As a quantum state collapses from a quantum superposition to a classical state or a different superposition, it will follow a path known as a quantum trajectory. For each start and end state there is an optimal ...

US spy agency patents car seat for kids

1 hour ago

Electronic eavesdropping is the National Security Agency's forte, but it seems it also has a special interest in children's car seats, Foreign Policy magazine reported Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Exploring 3-D printing to make organs for transplants

3 hours ago

Printing whole new organs for transplants sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but the real-life budding technology could one day make actual kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs for patients ...

High frequency of potential entrapment gaps in hospital beds

5 hours ago

A survey of beds within a large teaching hospital in Ireland has shown than many of them did not comply with dimensional standards put in place to minimise the risk of entrapment. The report, published online in the journal ...

Key element of CPR missing from guidelines

Jul 29, 2014

Removing the head tilt/chin lift component of rescue breaths from the latest cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) guidelines could be a mistake, according to Queen's University professor Anthony Ho.

Burnout impacts transplant surgeons (w/ Video)

Jul 28, 2014

Despite saving thousands of lives yearly, nearly half of organ transplant surgeons report a low sense of personal accomplishment and 40% feel emotionally exhausted, according to a new national study on transplant surgeon ...

User comments : 0