Musician’s Dystonia

A separate line of studies explores the musician’s dystonia thanks to the James C. Kilik Memorial Research Awards. In one of the projects, Robert Chen at the University of Toronto (Canada) is investigating how modulating the functional connectivity of the cerebellum affect musician's dystonia
Dr. Chen is using functional MRI to identify impaired connections between the cerebellum and parts of the brain mediating movements and cognition, and testing whether these connections can be normalized by non-invasive brain stimulation. This is the first study to look at functional brain connections in musicians with hand dystonia and the first to test the effects of cerebellar stimulation in musicians with dystonia.

In another study, Christine Kim at Columbia University, attempts to identify kinematic and force measures that could capture impairment in musician’s dystonia among string players and how improvement can be achieved with retraining therapy. Treatment for musician’s dystonia is challenging and typically includes physical therapy to ‘re-learn’ the movements required to perform. Retraining therapies have had some success among keyboard players, but not yet among string players. The study seeks to better understand how the timing, motion through space, and force of finger movements are affected by dystonia in string players in order to design more effective retraining therapy.