Focal Dystonia

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
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benessa
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Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by benessa » Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:09 am

There's a musician's focal dystonia forum on Facebook you may want to explore, Craig. Several of the participants have other issues contributing to focal dystonia and they discuss different meds (although beware of the med=poison crowd, sometimes pm-ing people can be more productive).

If anyone with FD can say they're lucky, I guess I'm lucky in that I just have a straight-forward case of a repetitive stress disorder. It's hard enough without other complicating factors! And even so, through this process over the last 3 years of retraining (and 14 years with the disorder) I was sent back to the starting line...soooooo many times. If I have a talent, I'd say it's for being elated and sustained by minuscule and brief successes, while remaining thick-skinned to the other 90+% of disappointments and failure.
...plain Kate...and sometimes Kate the curst

Craig

Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by Craig » Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:21 pm

Will have to check that forum. Yes ... med=poison is a valid theme, but for some, med=life. Without meds I am near catatonic and can stare at the wall for an hour without knowing it. While not as dramatic as Awakening, it is similar. Must be out of my mind to try CG but it is too beautiful to not embrace.
benessa wrote:If I have a talent, I'd say it's for being elated and sustained by minuscule and brief successes, while remaining thick-skinned to the other 90+% of disappointments and failure.
That is the recipe for life and should be on a banner! Too many are obsessed with being tantalized by the spectacular, only to miss the abundance of beauty that is actually available on the journey. Perhaps they want to be reincarnated as a super-nova and fail to understand that it is the death of a star, not its life.
You would not likely have progressed so well without being elated by the minuscule to feed the hard work :bravo:

ronjazz
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Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by ronjazz » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:51 am

Yes, the false hopes are the hardest to overcome when fighting FD, but slow, mindful practice will work for most. I have found that setting simple, achievable goals has been the best way for me to advance, along with the advice in the Shearer and Berg books and Philip Hii's excellent blog and publications. Something as simple and basic as p-i alternation (Berg p. 58, Sagreras Vol 2 #4) practiced diligently for 2 weeks resulted in excellent speed, tone and positioning, and then doing the same thing with p-m resulted in a nice p-im alternation (Segovia Sor study #4). For the dystonic, this is magical progress and creates a mental condition of positivity that re-energizes the practicing. Of course, having a good teacher/therapist is extremely helpful as well, and I have been working with Jerald Harscher for 3 years or so, he is a fine diagnostician and patient therapist.
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kansasguitar

Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by kansasguitar » Thu Feb 19, 2015 2:52 pm

Oh my goodness....I didn't even know this existed!! I am new to the guitar (and this website) and clicked on this forum thru sheer curiosity. Are there preventative measures one should take or is this simply a "roll the dice" and play sort of thing?

soltirefa
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Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by soltirefa » Sat Feb 21, 2015 9:38 pm

I wonder if switching to playing left handed would be a possible solution for someone with focal dystonia, rather than just quit playing.

Mayes

Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by Mayes » Thu Mar 05, 2015 9:24 pm

I have been "working through" FD for about 12 years, now. I heartily concur with the fellow who values small gains. Under the heading of "Don't cry that I'm dead - smile that I lived," I feel fortunate to have played - and to continue to play - at all; even with constantly diminishing technique.

jmaulz

Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by jmaulz » Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:22 pm

Update: My dystonia was/is primarily in my right hand thumb. Over the last several years I've gone from the inability to hold a pick to playing one note per second to three notes per beat at 120bpm, that's a long way! I thought that if I ever got this far I'd be as happy as can be, can flat pick or hybrid pick a lot of the classical guitar repertoire (at modest speeds of course). Now I want my classical finger style technique back! My progress has uncovered a deeper underlying dystonic reaction between i and m where when i strikes the string, m involuntarily extends, introducing tension and precluding independent motion. Progress for me has been about finding the dystonic threshold and not crossing it, and the threshold has then risen. I'm both grateful to play as I can, and still frustrated by the triggered dysfunction when trying use proper classical guitar technique.

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George Crocket
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Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by George Crocket » Sat Mar 07, 2015 7:25 am

Hi jmaulz. Welcome back to the forum. Your membership appears to have lapsed since your last visit. Please remember to keep up an average of at least one post per month, and visit the forum at least once every year. Meanwhile you have to start from scratch. Perhaps you could post a brief re-introduction here.
George
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benessa
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Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by benessa » Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:22 am

My latest post.

Videos and exercises are next.

http://www.kateclassicalguitar.com/fals ... alse-hope/
...plain Kate...and sometimes Kate the curst

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Blondie
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Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by Blondie » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:49 pm

benessa wrote:My latest post.
Great post kate and I can relate to so much of it. I'm not sure whether you read in another thread my experience of body mapping, but it was identical to yours, right down to the supinated wrist! (six months of 'pinky alignment' later.... :wink: )

One of the cruelest things about FD is that you need to be ultra positive to retrain/rehabilitate effectively (as any anxiety/self doubt impairs progress) yet as you so rightly say:
'The fact is, any new approach to our playing temporarily brings relief and a sense of improvement. A slight change in technique is enough to temporarily trick dystonic symptoms, disorienting them long enough to take on the disguise of an improvement. The relief that comes with this positive feedback gives us enough pleasure to think we’ve found “IT.” “The Method.” Even, “The Cure!”

Oh yes. And the trouble is you have to work at the new approach for months, possibly years, before you realise that you have hit a wall.

Looking forward to your next post.

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benessa
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Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by benessa » Sun Feb 07, 2016 7:34 pm

Thank you, Blondie.

I just read your posts on the FD Retraining thread. An exact match. And while there's something interesting in the "pinky alignment" approach -- accommodating the pinky in the LH by keeping a high position so the pinky can curve, often with the elbow quite close to the body, may be why classical guitarists don't get FD in the LH -- I found that ultimately it has had no bearing on my somewhat successful retraining.

Indeed, I began studying lute with the traditional technique of planting the pinky on the soundboard and playing thumb under. The RH almost has a cup shape so it is quite supinated and I have almost no dystonic symptoms with this technique.
...plain Kate...and sometimes Kate the curst

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benessa
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Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by benessa » Tue Feb 23, 2016 3:42 am

I have finally put up my retraining exercises along with some videos. I intend to improve the video quality in the future, but for now it's all about getting the information out there. The link below is an introduction and a preliminary exercise. On the site, the exercises continue with two more pages -- Lessons 1 and 2 -- and their corresponding exercises.

There are many different approaches to retraining - both physical and emotional -- and no one approach works for everyone. I sincerely hope this will help someone! Being able to play again, even if I'm not at 100% has been a remarkable experience. I hug my guitar all the time -- we are so happy!

Best of luck to all of you suffering from focal dystonia!

http://www.kateclassicalguitar.com/foca ... roduction/
...plain Kate...and sometimes Kate the curst

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benessa
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Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by benessa » Mon Feb 29, 2016 2:30 am

My latest update is another exercise, Lesson 3: http://www.kateclassicalguitar.com/…/fo ... nia-retrai…/

Plus a Video log that I am quite self-conscious about. I've included two videos of my playing before retraining that show some of the effects of focal dystonia: http://www.kateclassicalguitar.com/foca ... a-video-di…/
...plain Kate...and sometimes Kate the curst

guit-box
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Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by guit-box » Thu Mar 03, 2016 6:02 am

Benessa, I watched several of the videos from 2013 to present, and I can relate to the frustration. Question: I'm curious if you've ever tried plucking more perpendicular to the plane of the soundboard? I go back and forth between playing the way I see your fingers moving (with the main thrust coming from the large knuckle and following thru with that joint into the palm) to playing more from the middle joint flexing while the knuckle joint simultaneously extends. I was taught to play from the knuckle joint being the main thrust, but recently have had success getting away from that and I am now trying to concentrate on moving in a way that the finger tip stays more over the string and the knuckle doesn't follow through at all into the palm. I go back and forth and at times find the traditional way of moving into the palm works well for awhile, but then my hand starts to shut down from that movement again. I have a suspicion that movement is part of the cause of my dystonia--but of course I have no proof and my playing isn't totally back to normal, but it has improved some. Anyway, if you tried it, I'd be curious what the results were.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

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benessa
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Re: Focal Dystonia

Post by benessa » Sat Mar 05, 2016 5:08 am

Probably over 15 years I tried every adjustment to my hand available but none until the most recent adjustment created any lasting change. But I wasn't systematic in all the different approaches so who knows? I do think it was the subtle lifting of the m finger to clear the string (which is done thousands of times while practicing arpeggio and tremolo pieces) that mostly like caused the shut down of my hand. And it's the thing I still have to be careful about.
...plain Kate...and sometimes Kate the curst

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