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Median and Ulnar Neuropathies in U.S. Army Medical Command Band Members

Scott W. Shaffer, Nicholas R. Koreerat, Lindsay B. Gordon, Douglas R. Santillo, Josef H. Moore, David G. Greathouse
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 28 Number 4: Page 188 (December 2013)

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Abstract: PURPOSE: Musicians have been reported as having a high prevalence of upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders, including carpal tunnel syndrome. The purpose of this study was to determine the presence of median and ulnar neuropathies in U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) Band members at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. METHODS: Thirty-five MEDCOM Band members (30 males, 5 females) volunteered to participate. There were 33 right-handed musicians, and the mean length of time in the MEDCOM Band was 12.2 yrs (range, 1¿30 yrs). Subjects completed a history form, were interviewed, and underwent a physical examination of the cervical spine and bilateral upper extremities. Nerve conduction studies of the bilateral median and ulnar nerves were performed. Electrophysiological variables served as the reference standard for median and ulnar neuropathy and included distal sensory latencies, distal motor latencies, amplitudes, conduction velocities, and comparison study latencies. RESULTS: Ten of the 35 subjects (29%) presented with abnormal electrophysiologic values suggestive of an upper extremity mononeuropathy. Nine of the subjects had abnormal median nerve electrophysiologic values at or distal to the wrist; 2 had bilateral abnormal values. One had an abnormal ulnar nerve electrophysiologic assessment at the elbow. Nine of these 10 subjects had clinical examination findings consistent with the electrophysiological findings. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of mononeuropathies in this sample of band members is similar to that found in previous research involving civilian musicians (20-36%) and far exceeds that reported in the general population. Prospective research investigating screening, examination items, and injury prevention measures in musicians appears to be warranted.

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