Broken left arm - I'm devastated!
Hello everyone, a little over a year ago I broke my upper left humerus and 2 months ago I had a second surgery to clean up scar tissue. Despite all the physical therapy, second surgery and a nerve test I still have limited range of motion and can not get my arm into the proper position to play. I am desperate to find something to help and am curious if anyone has ever heard of a medical device or some sort of sling that can be rigged to prop up a persons left arm to hold the violin correctly. Once my arm is up and in position I can still move my pinky finger which is very good news in all of this. Am looking far and wide for any suggestions. Thank You!
How'd it break?
Oh my!!!! Hugs and Prayers!!!!
I’m sure everyone on the site considers your experience their worst nightmare. I’m very sorry to hear of your broken bone. You say that you have had physical therapy, but many such these are directed towards re-establishing basic functionality only, perhaps with little or no attention to something as specialized as playing violin. I recommend asking around, or even researching nationally, for physical therapy resources that are more specific to specified complex occupational tasks. In the book “Playing (less) Hurt”, by Janet Horvath, there is a list of clinics and selected medical practitioners in the appendix on page 213 that may be of interest. If you like, I can photocopy this list and send it to you direct. It may or may not be possible in your particular case, but additional opinions, with your goals specifically defined, may help you achieve what you are seeking.
I'd pay attention to Charles. He's a physician. I agree there is a world of difference between being able to sit at a computer and use a keyboard or lift a 28-oz can of tomatoes vs. playing the violin! Think about people who need to get golf swings or batting stances or tennis strokes back into shape after recovering from a fracture. They're doing more than routine PT.
That's a tough one. Aside from physiotherapy, perhaps play some baroque music in the old style of holding the instrument against the body rather than the shoulder so you don't have to raise your arm so high, just a thought.
I'm sorry to hear that. If it's any consolation you can probably play better than I can. Even with your broken arm.
See the site www.viostrap.com for a possible solution. The tutorial shows how it works. Hope this works for you...
In the list that Charles refers to, I wouldn't be surprised if some specialize in treating violinists and violists -- I don't know any names off the top of my head, but I remember seeing one in Northern California advertising exactly that.
Along the lines of using straps, maybe try a setup used for cello da spalla:
Soraya, I second Charles' opinion as far as taking 2nd and 3rd opinion about your recovery process / progress. If, and I truly hope that is not the case, the verdict is negative, consider learning a new instrument where left hand is positioned within your range. Guitar, cello or viola da gamba could be good candidates. They are not comparable to violin, but if one is a true musician, an instrument is just a medium, not the destination. Good luck and please keep us posted!
So sorry to hear. Sending best wishes on a full recovery!
Oh man that sucks. In your position I would probably follow Charles' advice.
I feel for you. I hope you find a good solution. I can't offer much help in that department, and it may be a last resort, but have you thought about playing cello?
I broke my IV and V metacarpal bones in my right hand about ten years ago. (No, I didn't punch anyone.) It was a long recovery. A year after the injury I was still getting up an hour early every day so I could run hot water on my hand and flex it to regain my range of motion. And four or five years after the injury I had resigned myself to accepting a somewhat limited range of motion. But now, ten years later, I'd say that I have essentially all of my original mobility in my ring finger, and 95% in my pinky. I'm just telling this story as encouragement. It should get better with time and patience. One year is not so long as these things go.
Maybe this discussion could lead to something....
I have not had a broken arm, but last year I had a ruptured disc in my spine - with the resulting pain, stiffness, and scar tissue issues. Maybe my experience will help you. I spent 4 - 5 months in daily physical therapy to get rid of pain via a focus on regaining flexibility in the scar tissue area. I spent another 4 months regaining strength, and re-started more active violin practice. I am now working on more endurance.
There are specialists, really good ones, in performing arts medicine.
Also, while you are healing, it might be soothing to take the opportunity to do a lot of listening to artist recordings, or maybe live performances.
I'd consult a specialist to ensure you don't do more harm. But what I did (I have an issue with my arm that requires surgery every 1-2 years) is I play sitting down next to a high adjustable table that I can rest my elbow on and holds my arm up. Best wishes with your recovery!!!!!
Thank you all so much! Since discovering this website and the various threads I've read, I took my violin with me to PT and we have discovered it seems to be muscle weakness in the ability to supinate my left hand (and violinists need to supinate a little farther than norm as well!). So the therapist seems to believe I may be able to regain this slowly over time by simply strengthening those muscles (for example holding a 1-4 lb weight and slowly twisting/rotating my wrist back and forth, as if mixing a jar of sauce or something like that).
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