“Musicians’ brains are different” - Katherine Butler, London Hand Therapy

Through years of practicing highly skilled movements, often from a young age, the area in the musicians’ brain that controls hand movement becomes more defined than that of a non-musician. However, in some musicians this initial benefit can become dysfunctional resulting in painless involuntary movements. Though uncommon, task specific dystonia (TSD) can be very disabling, especially for professional musicians. Whilst the condition still poorly understood, there is growing evidence to show that the brain gives and receives information in an altered way, due to repetitive practice of the highly skilled movements that musicians use when playing their instruments. There is evidence of dysfunction in the relationship between touch and the way movements are executed, and traits of anxiety and perfectionism in musicians’ who are affected by this. Retraining techniques that aim at reshaping the area of the brain that controls hand movements and assists in regaining control of affected movements are proving to be beneficial. This talk will look at why and how people develop this condition and how to manage and treat it.