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Musculoskeletal disorders in music students

...is a biopsychosocial prevention approach better than physical activity promotion?

Several studies have emphasised the power of music on our brain, especially on the development of the sensorimotor areas, resulting in higher levers of sensorimotor control for musicians. At the same time, this population appears particularly vulnerable to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), with a lifetime prevalence of injuries globally reaching up to 93%.

Therefore, it is a concern for every musician. Early prevention seems to have a key role in limiting MSD, since even music students already suffer from physical and sometimes mental health conditions compared with age-matched students.

Only a few studies of limited quality investigated prevention programmes for musicians. They all included various topics including anatomy and physiology, posture, routine exercises or even coping with performance.

The present RCT aimed at developing knowledge on the best and effective ways to prevent MSD in music students, while comparing a biopsychosocial prevention programme with general physical activity promotion. According to the authors, there were no significant difference in reducing disabilities caused by MSD between both prevention programmes.

The results showed a substantial decrease in playing-related disability and presence of MSD in both groups over time, even up to two years of follow-up.

However, there were no significant differences between both groups, so a biopsychosocial prevention programme specifically targeted to musicians does not appear superior to general physical activity promotion in reducing limitations due to MSD.

These results should still be interpreted with caution, as a substantial number of participants was lost in the follow-up.

> From: Baadjou et al., Occup Med 68 (2018) 469-477 . All rights reserved to The Author(s). Click here for the online summary.

Want to read deeper into this topic? Have a look at the free full text version of this article published here!

Expert opinion

Several reasons are brought by the authors to explain why the biopsychosocial approach does not appear superior to physical activity promotion. One of them is, that both interventions may be effective and that physical activity as a general and standard recommendation may in itself represent a prevention tool available to musicians.

One of the key words found throughout this study is definitely the notion of awareness: through this study, the participants have been made aware of the importance of being in good health and of physical activity as a tool in favour of their health in general and their health as musicians.

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