Playing-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders, Risk Factors, and Treatment Efficacy in a Large Sample of Oboists

Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 12 (2022)

Mots clés
  • Heather M. Macdonald
  • Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Stéphanie K. Lavigne
  • Music and Health Science Research Collaboratory, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Andrew E. Reineberg
  • Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States
  • Michael H. Thaut
  • Music and Health Science Research Collaboratory, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Michael H. Thaut
  • Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada


ObjectivesDuring their lifetimes, a majority of musicians experience playing-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMD). PRMD prevalence is tied to instrument choice, yet most studies examine heterogeneous groups of musicians, leaving some high-risk groups such as oboists understudied. This paper aims to (1) ascertain the prevalence and nature of PRMDs in oboists, (2) determine relevant risk factors, and (3) evaluate the efficacy of treatment methods in preventing and remedying injuries in oboe players.MethodsA 10-question online questionnaire on PRMDs and their treatments was completed by 223 oboists. PRMDs were compared across gender, weekly playing hours, career level, age, and years of playing experience.ResultsOf all respondents, 74.9% (167/223) reported having had at least one PRMD in their lifetime. A majority of these injuries (61.9% of all respondents) were of moderate to extreme severity (5 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10). Females (mean = 5.88) reported significantly more severe injuries than males. No significant effects of career level (i.e., professional vs. student vs. amateur), age, or years of playing experience were observed. We found significant non-linear relationships between weekly playing hours and PRMD prevalence and severity. Injuries were most commonly on the right side of the body, with the right thumb, wrist, hand, and forearm being most affected in frequency and severity. Of those injuries for which recovery information was provided, only 26.1% of injuries were “completely recovered.” The perceived effectiveness of a few treatments (physical therapy, rest, stretching, occupational therapy, massage) tended to be ranked more highly than others.ConclusionThe oboists in this study experienced high rates of PRMD, particularly in the right upper extremities. Females and those playing 7-9 and 16-18 h per week reported a significantly higher severity of injuries than other groups.

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