Sensory motor retuning: A behavioral treatment for focal hand dystonia of pianists and guitarists

Academic Article


  • Objective: To evaluate the long-term effectiveness of sensory motor retuning (SMR), a new treatment for focal hand dystonia in musicians. Design: Prospective case series with an (adventitious) comparison group with 3- to 25-month follow-up in piano and guitar and 0- to 4-month follow-up in flute and oboe players. Setting: General community in Germany. Participants: Eleven professional musicians. Intervention: Immobilization by splints of 1 or more digits other than the focal dystonic finger. This finger carried out repetitive exercises in coordination with 1 or more of the other digits for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours a day for 8 consecutive days under therapist supervision. The subjects then were instructed to continue practice for 1 hour daily for 1 year. Main Outcome Measures: Spectral analysis of the output of a dexterity-displacement device that continuously recorded digital displacement during finger movements and a dystonia evaluation scale on which patients rated how well they had just performed dystonic movement sequences and repertoire passages. Results: The 3 wind players (adventitious placebo controls) did not improve substantially. However, each pianist and guitarist showed marked and significant improvement in spontaneous repertoire performance without the splint. The first subject is now 25 months posttreatment. Conclusions: Results suggest that SMR is of value for the treatment of focal hand dystonia in pianists and guitarists. © 2002 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Candia V; Schäfer T; Taub E; Rau H; Altenmuüller E; Rockstroh B; Elbert T
  • Start Page

  • 1342
  • End Page

  • 1348
  • Volume

  • 83
  • Issue

  • 10