Master of Science in Industrial Engineering (MSIE)


Construction Management

Document Type



The objective of this study was to document the changes in posture and the number of wrist and forearm repetitions among violin/viola players during an experiment session to attempt to understand the development of musculoskeletal disorders. Also, the perception of discomfort and pain felt by the violin/viola players in the past and the number that had been diagnosed with a disorder was documented. Finally, possible correlations were calculated between pain/discomfort with variables like the number of years playing the violin, hours of practice/day, frequency of pain, gender, and dominant hand and among different pain/discomfort variables (pain/discomfort before the experiment, after the experiment and the change in pain/discomfort throughout the experiment) and ultimately possible relationships were determined between posture and repetition with pain/discomfort. Playing a musical instrument places the highest of demands on the musculoskeletal system of musicians and is considered one of the most complex tasks the human body can perform (Steinmetz, Seidel, & Muche, 2010). This places musicians at a high risk for the development of musculoskeletal disorders. Studies have shown how musicians are at high risk for developing PRMDs ranging in prevalence from approximately 30% to almost 90% (Zaza, 1998). These high statistics was the rationale for using musicians as the focus group. This study’s population was violin/viola players (students and professionals) above the age of 18. Electrogoniometers were used to measure the postural changes and the software used with the equipment provided a count of the repetitions. The independent variables accounted for pain and discomfort while the dependent variables accounted for the demographics as well as posture and repetition. Descriptive statistics were computed for the postural changes and averages for the number of repetitions. Left Radial, Left Flexion and Left Supination displayed the most extreme postural changes, while the right hand repetitions in the radial/ulnar plane had the highest number of repetitions. Ratings for the level of pain/discomfort were averaged and a paired t-test showed that there was a significant difference between the level of pain before and after the experiment session. Correlation analyses confirmed that extreme postures of the left hand and high number of repetitions on the right hand are associated with a higher change in discomfort. Finally, predictors in the regression models for the number of pain days in a year, the level of discomfort after the experiment and the change in discomfort included repetitions of the right hand in radial/ulnar plane and gender indicating that repetitive motions and being a female could lead to increased discomfort. Future research should focus on other physical risk factors (i.e. force) as well as psychosocial factors. Future studies could also look at the differences in postural changes and repetition between genders as well as differences in how forces are applied. Other studies could focus on the difference in how both genders report pain/discomfort and which are the most affected body parts. Studies can also attempt to document postural changes in different instrument cohorts to determine which instrument could lead to higher displacements, or which postures cause more strain. In summary, this study helped conclude that more extreme postural deviations, higher number of repetitions, more hours of practice per day are and even shorter periods of practice can lead to an increase in discomfort or pain.  



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Ikuma, Laura