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Research Letter |

Challenges of Making Music: What Causes Musician’s Dystonia?

Alexander Schmidt, MD, MA1; Hans-Christian Jabusch, MD2; Eckart Altenmüller, MD, MA3; Meike Kasten, MD1; Christine Klein, MD1
[+] Author Affiliations
1Institute of Neurogenetics, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany
2Institute of Musicians’ Medicine, Dresden University of Music Carl Maria von Weber, Dresden, Germany
3Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians’ Medicine, Hanover University of Music, Drama, and Media, Hanover, Germany
JAMA Neurol. 2013;70(11):1456-1459. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.3931.
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Musician’s dystonia, a task-specific movement disorder, affects 1% to 2% of professional musicians and is thought to be environmentally acquired, related to years of practice.1,2 Indeed, professional musicians will have spent more than 10 000 hours on the instrument by the age of 20 years.3 Recently, a clustering of different types of dystonia was reported in the families of patients with musician’s dystonia, suggesting also a genetic contribution to the disease.4 However, the underlying molecular genetic factors are currently unknown. We here investigated in a case-control design whether intensive practice or other environmental factors are associated with musician’s dystonia in combination with genetic susceptibility.

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Accumulated Fine Motor Hours for the 3 Study Groups and Age at First Practice on the Instrument

Bars indicate means and 95% confidence intervals. ANOVA indicates analysis of variance; HFM, healthy family member (of patients with musician’s dystonia); HM, healthy musician; MHD, musician’s hand dystonia.

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