Anna Detari takes her research to the 4th International Congress on Treatment of Dystonia

Posted on 20 May 2019

Last week I had the pleasure to participate and present at the 4th International Congress on Treatment of Dystonia.

This is a medical conference held biannually in Hannover. One of the organisers and scientific committee members is Eckhardt Altenmüller, who is one of the leading researchers on the field of Musician’s Focal Dystonia. Being a specialist neurologist at the University of Music, Drama and Media he frequently works with sufferers and considered to be the expert on the condition in the past 20 years. Attending to his, and his fellow researchers’ lectures and workshops was a truly informative experience.

 I also had the chance to present my poster. It reported my first grounded theory interview study in full and the initial results from the second. I received very positive feedback, helpful comments, and thought-provoking questions during the poster sessions.

Moreover, since my trip was also a data collection for my interview study, I had the chance to talk to the most prominent researchers in person as well. I hope these connections can be the foundation for future collaborations.

One of the key messages I have taken away from this conference, that the treatment of MFD does not necessarily line up with the literature. The published articles suggest intensive use of botulinum toxin and oral medication, but the literature on behavioural therapies is scarce. Opposing this it seems that in practice behavioural movement therapies are the first choice and botulinum toxin and oral medication are only used to support the treatment.

Moreover, it is suggested to use the name ‘Musician’s Focal Dystonia’ as an umbrella term, since it is theorised that there are several different pathophysiologies resulting in similar symptoms. Also, the term ‘dystonia’ might not be ideal to describe the condition, because it is the disturbance of a very specific motor pattern, and not a constantly present disability.

The conference was a truly amazing experience, and I am grateful to the Music Department of the University of York for the financial support and to my supervisor, Hauke Egermann for helping me with my accommodation for the duration of the conference and data collection.


By Anna Detari