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Assessment of health Risks in Musicians of the Slovene Philharmonic Orchestra, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Rajko Crnivec
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 19 Number 3: Page 140 (September 2004)

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Abstract: This study consisted of medical examination and comparison of results obtained in 70 musicians from the Slovene Philharmonic Orchestra, Ljubljana. The main goals of the study were to identify performance-related musculoskeletal disorders, to assess the health status and working capacity of the musicians, and to propose measures for improved protection of their health. The results were compared with results obtained in a control group of 28 marketing workers at Philip Morris Enterprise, Ljubljana. Musculoskeletal problems of the studied group of Slovene musicians were compared with problems of 109 musicians of the Berlin Opera Orchestra examined at the Institute of Occupational Health, Berlin, Germany. We identified performance-related diseases (inflammatory and degenerative skeletal disorders and minor occupational hearing impairments) that were moat frequent. A significant proportion of performing musicians had overuse syndrome, caused by excessive use of the extremities and characterized by cumulative microtrauma exceeding human physiologic limits, and dermatologic problems, such as finger calluses and "fiddler's neck." The most frequent musculoskeletal problems were due to repetitive motion, unphysiologic postures (isometric strain on the affected muscles), and prolonged sitting position during performances. The highest level of musculoskeletal disorders was noted in the double bass and cello sections, followed by violin, viola, woodwind, and brass players. The severity of physical impairments and restricted ability to perform music were correlated with age, duration of classical music performance, and total length of service. In the group of Slovenian musicians, the incidence of health problems in general was twice as high as in the control group, whereas the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders was six times as high as that in the control group. Health status of the musicians in terms of moderate and severe physical impairments was worse than in the control group. Measures for improved health protection and better performance ability were proposed.

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