Clarkson University doctor of physical therapy students and Crane School of Music student musicians are coming together on a common topic: health promotion and wellness. Second-year students in Clarkson‘s physical therapy (PT) program are currently in a population health course focusing on the role physical therapists play in health promotion and wellness in the community. On April 4th, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music student musicians will undergo a health screening performed by Clarkson’s PT students to promote pain-free instrument playing and the prevention of repetitive injuries. The student musician screening will provide a baseline for tracking an individual’s health and performance over time analogous to an annual physical or eye exam.
Musicians are an underserved population in regard to health and well-being. However, there is growing awareness of the particular demands of the profession such that playing a musical instrument is in itself a risk factor for musculoskeletal disorder. Similar to sport, pain and injury associated with the particular physical demands of playing certain instruments are different for a flutist than a pianist, for example. The overall purpose of this project is to investigate potential connections between musicians’ self-reported pain and/or injury, screening assessment, and video analysis of performance to identify risk factors that can inform musicians’ practice and training to promote the development of healthy playing habits and injury mitigation while also improving the knowledge base related to musicians’ health.
The physical therapy profession is expanding its therapeutic focus on treating individuals to also include influencing health and lifestyle-related factors. “The collaboration between our programs is a win-win situation,” says Dana McGuire, Clinical Associate Professor of Physical Therapy at Clarkson University. “By participating in screening and education, our PT students have the opportunity to practice their skills and positively impact the musician community. The student musicians will receive preventive education based on assessment findings.” Prior to the screening activity, Tracy Lipke-Perry, Assistant Professor Crane School of Music and Todd Perry, PT, DPT of Perry Physical Therapy Solutions and Adjunct Instructor of Physical Therapy at Clarkson University, provided the PT students with context for this unique, niche population including information on instrument-specific characteristics, common injuries, and risk factors for injury.
Physical therapists are movement experts who diagnose mobility and pain-related disorders, prescribe exercise supported by hands-on techniques to optimize physical function, and prevent disease and disability across the lifespan. Clarkson’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program seeks to guide the next generation of movement experts by promoting the well-being of our local community and those all around the globe. Through a problem-based learning curriculum and hands-on clinical experience, Clarkson promotes leaders in physical therapy that make sound clinical decisions, implement practical solutions, and support health behavior change.
Founded in 1886 as one of the first institutions dedicated to the preparation of music teaching specialists, the Crane School of Music is one of the premier music institutions in the country. Crane students and alumni are a distinguished community of musician-educators, artists, scholars, and advocates performing, collaborating, and teaching worldwide. Crane fosters a unique richness of learning and collaborative experience, a tradition of innovation, facilitating the training of flexible and creative musicians prepared to lead as performers and educators.
This work is the first collaboration for McGuire, Lipke-Perry, and Perry who plan to continue this work at Crane and look forward to extending the opportunity to individual musicians and community groups throughout the region in future iterations.