Musicians get in shape

    Elite athletes often suffer from injuries. While there's one type of high-risk athlete you may not have considered, doctors at Houston Methodist Hospital sure are watching after them.  They're targeting musicians with a new program to help prevent pain and injuries.  Dehner Franks is a professional pianist in Houston.  You may have enjoyed his music at a local hospital, or while he played at church, an orchestra, or while playing jazz music, with his wife.  Dehner says most people think he would hurt his hands while playing, but it's ankle pain that he suffers from. "I do think the pedaling has something to do with that.  I also wasn't taught to play, I started by ear - I was self taught, so didn't learn how to sit at a piano or hold my hands the right way.  Over the years, I've had tendonitis issues ands all kinds of stuff," says Dehner. 
    Dehner has joined Dr. Todd Siff's "BE IN SHAPE Program" at Houston Methodist Hospital. Under the plan, they closely monitor 9 key points.  Each letter of "BE IN SHAPE" stands for something. 
    B = breaks 
    E = ergonomics

    I - intelligent practice 
    N - night 

    S - stress
    H - hydrate 
    A - avoid texting during breaks
    P - posture 
    E - evaluate yourself for "red flags" 

    "None of these are earth-shattering, but if you put them all together and we can get musicians to adapt these into their lifestyle, we think it will help minimize injuries and boost performance," says Dr. Todd Siff with Houston Methodist Hospital.  He may be an orthopedic surgeon, but his program's goal is to help keep musicians out of the operating room.  "We see all types of injuries - depends on the instrument, but most commonly I see:  tendonitis, ligament injuries, over-use injuries, nerve injuries, numbness and tingling are related to playing and we'll also see neck and lower back injuries," explains Dr. Siff.   He hopes musicians will seek immediate help, when they suffer a symptom.  He says he and his team can usually figure out WHAT is causing the problem, treat it, and prevent it from happening again.  That could involve a getting a brace, or taking anti-inflammatory medicine, simple heat and ice treatment, or just resting more.  "A lot of the injuries have to do with ergonomics, very important that when you practice and play - it's all adjusted to your height, so that it's appropriate for your body," says Dr. Siff. 
    That was definitely a hard lesson for Dehner to learn.  "I've noticed when a piano is on a dolly, I have more symptoms!  This one isn't as bad but some are way up here, your wrist is bent - I had times when I'd have to stop playing because of injury," says Dehner.  He hopes the program will help prolong his musical career, because any more injuries would be devastating.
"Oh yes, it would be major, certainly prevention is the name of the game," emphasizes Dehner.  
    Dr. Siff hopes to start the important lessons on how to BE IN SHAPE early in life.  He's working with the High School of Performing Arts and with students at local universities to prevent injuries. 
    Tips for preventing all sports injuries:{2A787BBE-9A2F-486E-BEF8-38BD0B7D7060}