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Injury and the Orchestral Environment: Part III. The Role of Psychosocial Factors in the Experience of Musicians Undertaking Rehabilitation

Dale L.L. Rickert, Margaret S. Barrett, Bronwen J. Ackermann
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 29 Number 3: Page 125 (September 2014)

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Abstract: Workplace rehabilitation in the orchestral setting poses a number of challenges that arise in part due to a poor fit between generic injury insurance and medical care and the elite performance requirements of professional musicians. Currently, the orchestral profession lacks information and strategies to best deal with the unique challenges of this complex rehabilitation environment. In order to inform future directions for research and suggest possible changes of practice, the researchers conducted a qualitative case-study aimed at understanding the injury and rehabilitation experiences of professional musicians. In-depth semi-structured interviews were undertaken with three chronically injured professional cellists from a single Australian orchestra. After initial data analysis, further interviews were undertaken with a set of five orchestral management staff as a means of data triangulation. All data were analysed using a themes-based analysis-of-narrative approach. The findings indicate that injury concealment played a considerable role in the development of chronic injuries for these musicians, and management staff felt that this concealment may be the norm amongst orchestral musicians. The musicians in this study suffered emotional and psychological trauma as the result of their injuries, and two participants felt socially marginalised. During rehabilitation, the musicians in this study encountered difficulties with medical staff not understanding the elite performance requirements of orchestral work. The article proposes recommendations that may assist in dealing with the complex challenges of injury rehabilitation in the orchestral environment.

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