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Beating Injury with a Different Drumstick: A Pilot Study

Christine Zaza, Mark S. Fleiszer, Frank W. Maine, Chris Mechefske
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 15 Number 1: Page 39 (March 2000)

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Abstract: Many studies indicate that percussionists are among the instrumentalists at higher risk for playing-related musculoskeletal disorders. Several drummers with musculoskeletal disorders have reported an alleviation of symptoms and a return to pain-free playing with the use of a newly developed oriented polymer drumstick. These anecdotal reports have prompted the authors to investigate the properties of the oriented drumsticks compared with wooden drumsticks. This paper reviews the musculoskeletal problems of percussionists as well as the risk factors for work-related musculoskeletal disorders, and presents the results of preliminary tests comparing the properties of the oriented polymer drumsticks with those of wooden drumsticks. Electronic devices for measuring vibration amplitude were attached to the drumsticks, which were mounted with a clamp on one end. The drumsticks were tapped gently and the response was recorded. There was a noticeable difference in amplitude between the two types of drumsticks: the oriented polymer drumsticks stopped vibrating sooner than the wooden drumsticks. Risk factors for work-related musculoskeletal disorders include high repetition, high force, and other factors, such as vibration. With regard to carpal tunnel syndrome risk, the vibration properties of oriented polymer drumsticks are potentially favorable compared with wooden drumsticks. The authors' next step is to determine whether the oriented polymer drumsticks are associated with a reduction of risk for playing-related musculoskeletal disorders in drummers.

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