Focal Dystonia Retraining

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
bchi123
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Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by bchi123 » Tue Oct 13, 2015 3:11 pm

I wanted to share with everyone my experience with my retraining process with FD. I feel that I am now starting to make great strides in my playing, but I still continue to retrain and have to work out movements to get back to how I used to play.

I have made videos of the past four years of my playing and retraining, taking videos of important breakthroughs that has happened along the way. I hope that the information in the videos are beneficial to others who are experiencing similar problems.

https://youtu.be/KYWdRiS0YgM?list=PLA496E4EB4F5E1863[/youtube]

link to the playlist - https://youtu.be/KYWdRiS0YgM?list=PLA496E4EB4F5E1863
When words leave off, music begins. ~Heinrich Heine

ronjazz
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by ronjazz » Thu Oct 22, 2015 11:43 pm

Are you getting any help, therapy or lessons?
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bchi123
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by bchi123 » Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:04 pm

I got the idea of using hand aids while playing from using oval-8 finger splints from the doctor that diagnosed me in the beginning. I used those for quite a while and even played some gigs/concerts with them. My former teacher at the time suggested that I use a pingpong ball, which I still use to this day, but in a variant (cat toy bracelet type thing) to play certain rep that is needed for gigs. Also during my studies, I took free Alexander Technique lessons at my conservatory which I think has helped me out a lot to help me figure out the concept of awareness in the body. I have focused mainly on becoming aware of the extra tension, then trying to figure out how to release it somehow. In the past I've tried all sorts of things; different hand aids while playing, reading and rereading various types of methods, yoga, meditation, etc. I've had quite a bit of success in my retraining, but unfortunately I still continue this process.
When words leave off, music begins. ~Heinrich Heine

ronjazz
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by ronjazz » Wed Oct 28, 2015 2:13 pm

I would suggest a specialist. Jerald Harscher is a great diagnostician, and teaches via Skype, although if you can get an occasional face-to-face lesson, more can be achieved. I have fully recovered from focal dystonia with his help, and I am now rebuilding my technique, also with his help.

I only mention this because I cans see that you've made progress, but there are a couple of specific things you are doing that are limiting your recovery.

Jerald is at "the poised guitarist" website, worth investigating. He is in Cambridge, MA, not an impossible ride from NYC; I go up from Connecticut every so often.
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guit-box
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by guit-box » Thu Nov 05, 2015 1:29 am

In my humble opinion, your hand looks best when you are moving more from the middle joint. I'd suggest getting that joint to move the most and not try to pluck from the main knuckle for awhile and see if that helps. It has definitely helped me some. Also, check out this thread since I believe it's directly related to what you are going through. viewtopic.php?f=6&t=80875&start=225
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

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Blondie
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by Blondie » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:02 am

ronjazz wrote:I would suggest a specialist. Jerald Harscher is a great diagnostician, and teaches via Skype, although if you can get an occasional face-to-face lesson, more can be achieved. I have fully recovered from focal dystonia with his help, and I am now rebuilding my technique, also with his help.
Great that you have recovered (though I am a bit puzzled at the distinction between 'fully recovered' and 'rebuilding technique'). I have to say that for me, after six months of expensive sessions with Jerald I made very little progress. Lots of time spent discussing other guitarists, lots of (sometimes quite long) anecdotes (some of which were repeated at several lessons) lots of time on 'body mapping' (which basically boils down to knowing what joints you have and where they are located) but nothing on tackling FD head on.

One thing that did help was realigning my wrist and playing from a more pronated position - my previous supinated position was exacerbating one of my FD symptoms (thumb flexing uncontrollably into palm). However his idea that to solve everything we must play from a 'pinky aligned' position wore thin after a while. I feel I have made much more progress on my own.
Last edited by Blondie on Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dofpic
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by Dofpic » Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:18 pm

I had a similar experience with Jerald and only stayed with it for 2 months. He wanted to change my technique and go from a straight wrist to a more pronated one which i found it made everything worse. I am happy to report after a year or working with my person in Spain I am on my way. it has been a lot of ups and downs but I am finally understanding it all and realizing traditional practice methods often make it worse. Here is an example of a gal who got over it in one year with my current treatment. I was even ahead of her after 4 months but then made the mistake of trying to speed up the process only to kill my progress. I could of never got there without guidance from Silvia see below:

http://www.institutart.com/index.php/en ... /treatment
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Blondie
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by Blondie » Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:53 pm

Good to hear you are still making progress Dofpic, I always keep an eye on your thread for updates.

Katerina's case has come up in several places/forums. It would be good if the Instituart could produce a range of videos of people they have helped.

oriventura
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by oriventura » Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:15 pm

there's a video of Marco de Biasi which was also treated in institutart.
I hope in a few months there will be a video of me :) things are going very good. Here's a tune I wrote last week, while I still have dystonia, bear in mind I couldn't play almost at all, 4 month ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0nvJxqqW9A

ronjazz
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by ronjazz » Sat Nov 07, 2015 6:36 pm

The difference between "fully recovered" and "rebuilding technique" is basically the same as "beginner with no problems" to "virtuoso". I have eliminated focal dystonia, but now need to build speed and control. This is a laborious process, because not paying full attention will re-aggravate the dystonic spasms. As far as how long it takes, I figured, perhaps incorrectly, that, since it took some 40 years to develop FD, it might take more than a few months to fix it. I also never had the luxury of not playing for a living, so my recovery was definitely made longer by performing all the time. As far as Jerald's method is concerned, I have been working with him for over 3 years, and I do very little playing during lessons, since, FD is a brain problem, not a physical one, and it seems necessary to really "map" the techniques onto the brain, which takes as much thinking and visualizing as it does practicing. I know this: when I do what he says, I improve. When I don't, I slip back.
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by Dofpic » Sat Nov 07, 2015 11:45 pm

Glad to hear it. just be careful not to slip back while rebuilding.

My own opinion is that it starts out as a physiological problem with too much tension in your playing from doing too much repetitive techniques like tremolo arpeggios etc. Then you start to have involuntary co-contractions in your flexor muscles. You then not realizing it you use your extensors to try and correct the problem and then you now have FD as you cannot control it since they are working against each other.

Then your brain latches on to this and accepts it and it is the new normal and you have no idea what is going on and cannot "fix it". The more you try to correct it or control the worse it gets. Then you lose confidence in your ability and then become an emotional condition on top of it. You can move your fingers away from the guitar but not on the guitar and the circle becomes vicious as each time you pick up the guitar the sensations come right back when you put your fingers to the strings, just like Pasvslov's dog when they ring the bell.

I feel pretty confident with Instituart's help I will get over it but I have no idea how people get over it by themselves. I made tremendous progress the first 4 months only to try and "rebuild my technique" before I was ready only to put myself thru 8 months of frustration. I am finally learning what I need to do to "get it out of my brain" and what not to do as the normal practice techniques only make it worse at my stage. still hopeful but lots of work to do and I am now accepting the program and enjoying the process.
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Blondie
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by Blondie » Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:35 am

ronjazz wrote:The difference between "fully recovered" and "rebuilding technique" is basically the same as "beginner with no problems" to "virtuoso". I have eliminated focal dystonia, but now need to build speed and control. This is a laborious process, because not paying full attention will re-aggravate the dystonic spasms.
Its an interesting way of looking at it but that concept doesn't work for me, a beginner would not experience dystonic spasms. For me, one recovers from FD *by* rebullding one's technique (retraining), the two are not separate processes. As one learns to move freely again, the symptomatic FD movements fade. The more one moves freely, the more that efficient/healthy neural pathways are ingrained and with less usage the corrupted FD pathways fizzle out through non use over time

it goes without saying that this process has to be undertaken very carefully, beginning with the simplest of movements, and you can't jump the gun at any time.

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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by Dofpic » Sun Nov 08, 2015 2:56 pm

Blondie I think you are spot on as with everything you just said. Beginners do not start with their extensors trying to stop their flexors from curing in or in this case spasms. I do not believe you get over it and then rebuild. To me it seems it is something done simultaneously. I believe you have to log a lot of hours of playing without FD in order to rid your brain of it as Blondie just said.
2006 Greg Byers(fan)2009 Eric Monrad(maple) 2018 Simon Ambridge Model 40 Satinwood. 2003 Tacchi Simplcio satinwood 2017 E. Bottelli 52 Hauser, 2002 Jeff Elliott spruce, 2017 Richard Reynoso, spruce/maple, 2015 Herman Hauser III(Cedar)2005 Tacchi Coclea

ronjazz
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by ronjazz » Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:17 pm

Seems like a distinction without a difference, since getting over it includes very slow, careful practice as well as several exercises away from the guitar, some not involving the fingers at all. A beginner, by the way, often fights the flexion-extension battle, albeit without spasms, but certainly many beginners force the extensions after the flexion stroke. In my case, becoming a beginner was the best way to achieve my former technique and then go beyond it.
Lester Devoe Flamenco Negra
Lester Devoe Flamenco Blanca
Aparicio Flamenco Blanca with RMC pickup
Bartolex 7-string with RMC pickup
Giannini 7-string with Shadow pickup
Sal Pace 7-string archtop

Dofpic
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Re: Focal Dystonia Retraining

Post by Dofpic » Mon Nov 09, 2015 11:58 pm

godspeed... but not too much speed!
2006 Greg Byers(fan)2009 Eric Monrad(maple) 2018 Simon Ambridge Model 40 Satinwood. 2003 Tacchi Simplcio satinwood 2017 E. Bottelli 52 Hauser, 2002 Jeff Elliott spruce, 2017 Richard Reynoso, spruce/maple, 2015 Herman Hauser III(Cedar)2005 Tacchi Coclea

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