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Prevalence of Medical Problems among Double Reed Performers

Michael Thrasher Kris S. Chesky
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 16 Number 4: Page 157 (December 2001)

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Abstract: One aspect of double reed performance warranting consideration involves the biomechanical stress placed on the human body through the performance of these instruments. At present, inadequate information exists that can effectively answer questions regarding the types of physical problems experienced by oboe and bassoon players and the percentages of players who suffer from such problems. The purpose of this study is to describe medical problems of double reed players utilizing data collected through the University of North Texas Musician Health Survey (UNT-MHS). Sixty survey respondents identified oboe as their primary instrument. The majority of musculoskeletal problems reported by oboists related to the right wrist, right hand, right fingers, right forearm, right neck, and right lower back. In all areas, females reported higher percentages of problems than did males. Among nonmusculoskeletal problems, oboists reported a high incidence of headaches, blackouts/dizziness, and stage fright. Seventy-five subjects identified bassoon as their primary instrument. The majority of musculoskeletal problems reported by bassoonists related to the left wrist, left hand, right wrist, and left fingers. Among nonmusculoskeletal problems, bassoonists reported a high incidence of headaches, eyestrain, and fatigue. Since the lack of a truly randomized sample prevents generalization of these results to the total double-reed-playing population, these results should be interpreted with caution. However, the high rates of right upper extremity dysfunction among oboists and left upper extremity dysfunction among bassoonists illustrated in this study warrant additional research.

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