Living with the condition since 2007
A Brief History:
Although the symptoms first began in 2007, Greg was diagnosed with Focal Dystonia 2008. By 2011 the right hand was barley useable.
Because Focal Dystonia has no anatomical origin, and that there is no effective medical cure, Greg was compelled to give up much of his career and professional development devoting his energy to recovering motor control of his hand.
In late 2011 recovery finally seemed attainable, but it has required a great amount of work to retrain deep neural pathways from the brain to the hand. Although this retraining continues today, in early 2020 it became clear the Greg has made a full recovery Click here to read Greg's Focal Dystonia Blog.
What is Focal Dystonia?
Focal Dystonia is a neurological condition that affects a muscle or group of muscles in a specific part of the body, causing involuntary muscular contractions and abnormal postures. For example, the fingers either curl into the palm or extend outward without control.
Dystonia Medical Research Foundation
How recovery began
Focal Dystonia is very difficult to treat. There are no relaible surgical methods for pharmaceutical regimines that will truly address the cause of the malady.
Greg has seen hand therapists, manual body workers, acupuncturists and taken prescribed drugs. None of these had a direct effect on the hand.
In 2011, Greg began studies with Jerald Harscher, a guitarist who also had FD but made a full recovery through the practice of Body Mapping. This, combined with the study of PPD made it possible to regain control of his hand. Greg continues to study with Jerald to this day and is proud to have accomplished a resolution of his symptoms.
Long Term Effects
The short terms effects of Focal Dystonia are devastating. The long term effects depend on how quickly recovery happens and in which context recovery takes place. In Greg's case, recovery had to be balanced with the need to remain employable with the need to completely re-invent how he plays so that the symptoms dissapear altogether. This was not easy as the symptoms persisted in nearly every profession situation. As is common with musician's injuries, there exists the fear that one will lose professional standing if the injury is revealed. This can and did cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. While playing Greg compensated for the dystonia with painful movements while living in fear of losing work altogether. Like many with this disorder, Greg had to recalibrate his artistic future in favor of recovery.
Greg has spent the last 10 years in "recovery" mode. Much of his time is spent re-learning to play while simultaneously maintaining a career. The down side of this mode is that recovery comes first and professional development has taken a back seat. The upside is that, despite the ongoing feat of reclaiming lost technical abilities, Greg is emerging a better artist, musician and instrumentalist and looks forward to continuing his recovery and reclaiming his artistry.
A note from Greg:
If you feel like you have, or may have been diagnosed with FD - Please DO NOT despair. I realize this is easier said than do as I have had my full share of despair, anxiety and depression as a resulto of FD. But, please know this: there IS hope and there IS a way to resolve it. Please check out some of the links below. Not all of the links deal widirectly with FD, rather they relflect some of the resources I have employed for my recovery.
Remember, Focal Dystonia is SYSTEMIC - It cannot be resovled by only one or two modalities, let alone by focusing solely on the symptoms of the affected joints or muscles.
I welcome anyone to contact me with any questionas or concerns about their own experiences with FD. Thank you!
• Body Mapping: What Every Musican Needs to Know About the Body - Barbara and Benjamin Conable
• How to Learn the Alexander Technique - Barbara Conable
• Unlearn Your Pain - Dr. Howard Schubiner
• Open Focus Brain - Les Fehmi & Jim Robbins
• The Intergrated Musican - Pedro De Alcantara