Rheumatology: Current Research

Rheumatology: Current Research
Open Access

ISSN: 2161-1149 (Printed)



Applied Musculoskeletal Assessment: Results from a Standardised Physical Assessment in a National Population of Professional Orchestral Musicians

Tim Driscoll and Bronwen Ackermann

Introduction: Australia has eight full-time professional symphonic and pit orchestras. This paper reports on the major findings from the physical examination component of a cross-sectional survey of the musicians, the first stage of a long-running national study and focuses on upper limb anthropomorphic measures and their association with different instrument types.

Methods: All musician members of the orchestras participating in this project were invited to undertake a physical assessment, using a standardized protocol. The overall response rate was 76% (n=408).

Results: The musicians were experienced (mean professional playing time = 20.6 years; standard deviation =10.7). For nearly all strength and anthropometric measures, men had higher mean results than women. Sex but not age was correlated with most measures. Many measures were highly correlated and most measures did not differ importantly between instruments. Upper strings players had significantly greater range of supination on the left but not the right; lower strings players had significantly greater hand span on the left but not the right; brass players had significantly greater grip strength and longer forearms.

Conclusion: This study provides detailed estimates for a large range of common anthropometric measures relevant to the physical assessment and musculoskeletal functioning of professional orchestral musicians and identified potentially important differences in some of these measures between musicians playing particular instruments.