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Multidimensional Signal Analysis as a Means of Better Understanding Factors Associated with Repetitive Use in Violin Performance

Gongbing Shan, Peter Visentin, Arlan Shultz
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 19 Number 3: Page 129 (September 2004)

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Abstract: Multidimensional signal analysis (MSA) involves the coordination and correlation of data gathered by multiple analytic techniques. For complex biosystems, MSA provides a means to investigate better aspects of the system that cannot be understood easily using a single method. This is clearly the case for repetitive use injuries, also commonly referred to as overuse syndrome. Injuries from overuse syndrome are the result of deliberate physical behaviors. They typically are investigated through injury-site examinations, statistical or epidemiologic studies, and observation of the behaviors associated with the injury. Diverse methods often must be used to evaluate a patient because individually they provide only partial information relating to the etiology. The use of MSA permits the integration of multiple observational perspectives, generally creating a more holistic view. Using MSA, accurate external description of the movements thought to cause injury can be linked with internal physiologic conditions. Because physical work causes observed damage in Overuse syndrome patients, a full examination of internal loading and muscle activity provides one possibility for understanding the evolutionary nature of these pathologies. Kinematic description, internal load analysis, electromyography, and biomechanical modeling are complementary methods used for MSA in this study. In the current study, a nine-camera ViCON v8i system was used to capture three-dimensional body kinematics as input for inverse dynamic modeling. Electromyography (Noraxon; 8-channel, wireless) was measured and synchronized to the model, permitting the correlation of joint moments and selected muscle activity. Results reveal clear relationships between muscle activity and physiologic loading for a variety of bowing speeds, strong interaction among muscles and groups of muscles, and changes in motor control at varying speeds. Additionally, load levels and work patterns are quantitatively established, and evidence is found to support a three-phase division of motor control based on speed: (1) increasing physical effort, (2) optimization, and (3) approaching physiologic limits. Combined with previous kinematic, kinetic, and statistical studies, the current study illuminates the relative risks of static versus dynamic loading, and provides perspective on the working patterns of muscles throughout the kinematic chain of the arms and torso during violin performance. Most importantly, this study begins the process of establishing MSA as a means of gleaning a greater overall view from the separate observational perspectives provided by multiple assessment methods used to examine performing artists' injuries. This is the first such study for violin performance; an activity highly correlated with overuse syndrome.

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