The correlation between upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms and joint kinematics, playing habits and hand span during playing among piano students.

Research paper by Yael Y Kaufman-Cohen, Sigal S Portnoy, Ran R Sopher, Lital L Mashiach, Lilach L Baruch-Halaf, Navah Z NZ Ratzon

Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: PloS one


We aimed to investigate the correlations between Upper Extremity Musculoskeletal Symptoms (MSD) and joint kinematics while playing the piano, as well as correlations between MSD and psychosocial, professional and personal habits, and bio-demographic risk factors of piano students. This cross-sectional study included 15 piano students. The research tools included 3D motion capture, anthropometric measurements, and questionnaires for obtaining data about MSD, psychological, and personal factors. The piano students recruited for this study experienced a variety of MSD during the past 12 months, with a particularly high prevalence of neck pain (80%). Extreme wrist extension and/or elbow flexion while playing the piano also correlated with MSD. Additionally, this study identified correlations between MSD and hand span (r = -.69, p≤.004) and number of playing hours per week (r = .58, p≤.024). Anthropometric factors and playing patterns should be considered together with well-known MSD risk factors, like extreme and repetitive movements. However, considering each joint singularly might not be sufficient to prevent the development of MSD when instructing the piano player; accordingly, joint synchronization should also be considered.