Stories about: Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program

What parents of musicians should know about upper extremity injuries

Andrea Bauer Thriving lead image nerve injuries upper extremity musicians

When it comes to orthopedic injuries, sports are usually talked about as high-risk activities, but it’s not often we consider the risk that musicians take when playing an instrument for hours every day.

Musicians can get overuse injuries the same way that athletes do, and are at risk for neck and back injuries, as well as shoulder strain. In particular, nerve injuries in the upper extremities are quite common amongst string instrument musicians, as they tend to hold their instruments in abnormal positions for long periods of time.

While parents may not think that their kid playing an instrument could come with potential injury hazards, these conditions can leave a child or young adult in pain and unable to play. Andrea Bauer, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in the Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program at Boston Children’s Hospital details how these injuries occur and what parents should look out for.

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Jenna’s story: How two surgeons changed her path in life

Inspired by her own surgeries, Jenna dresses up as doctor

“Your daughter was a very sick little girl.” Those were the first words that came out of Dr. Peter Waters’ mouth as he addressed my parents in the waiting room of Boston Children’s Hospital, back in 1999. They had been anxiously waiting, wondering and worrying about my condition.

“Will they get it all?”

“Will she be the same?”

“Will she survive?”

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10-year-old travels from Houston to Boston and wows her surgeon with piano performance

Jessica pianoJessica Lewsley’s annual follow-up appointment with her orthopedic surgeon Dr. Peter Waters is a fairly routine affair—x-rays and strength and function testing. Jessica was born with a birth defect to her left hand, which developed only a thumb and little finger. “Dr. Waters always shares little pearls of wisdom, and we all look forward to our visit every year,” says Jessica’s father Mike.

This year’s visit, however, was a bit different.

Mike pulled out his iPad and showed Waters a Jessica playing “Alouette” on the piano.

“It will move you to tears,” says Waters. “Rather than focusing on what is missing, Jessica and her family have been great about celebrating all that she can do. Their acceptance, love and support has had a major impact on her life.”

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