Brother In Arms
I’m 63 and have played guitar, keys and brass since teenage years, to home amateur standard, and played in bands in my late teens and early 20s. GT has been my go-to guitar magazine for many years. It’s a wonderful idea that’s grown and developed into the best tuition aid for guitar in the world. Congratulations on being involved in it and helping to make it what it is.
In September on holiday I had a bad bicycle accident: badly bruised and lacerated hands, broken right forearm, multiple fracture elbow, broken ribs and general bashing and cuts elsewhere. Right now I can hold the guitar semi-appropriately and make plinking noises. I have not written in for sympathy, although I’m sure that your team, and most other players out there, would sympathise with my predicament. My reason for writing in is the rehab process and relearning how to play. I’ve started physiotherapy and that’s great. My pot comes off next week. The physio exercises are all about getting back muscle tone, tendon and joint articulation and extension. With regard to all the fine motor skills required for playing musical instruments all the advice is about.... Well, just play... but don’t overdo it. Is there any more specific knowledge and experience out there you could guide me to. I seem to remember a similar experience happened to one of your team. As a consequence you printed some exercises music and tab some time ago. I shall be digging this out when my pot comes off.
How about a more in depth article, or series even, on recovery and exercises for us guitar players. I bet there’s lots of people who take GT who have had similar misfortune and would welcome such an article. Furthermore in commissioning and researching such an endeavour you may be able to discover and disseminate who the specialists involved are and the specialist consensus advice regarding specific recovery exercise might be for us guitar players. Peter Modern, Read, Lancashire That sounds like a real nightmare, Peter. I’m glad you’re on the road to recovery, at least. It’s rather scary for a non-medical magazine like GT to offer what really is bona-fide medical advice, so I’m going to simply suggest you speak to your physiotherapist a little more deeply about your music – maybe even take your guitar along and show him or her how you play. It might be that there’s specific advice about using the guitar as physical rehabilitation – things to do and things to avoid (that four-fret bend, for instance).
The incident you recall is when Jason Sidwell fell and hurt his fretting hand badly – he devised his own progressive set of exercises and his playing is now fully back its normal (scary) level. It was these exercises we printed in GT218. But also, many years ago, a friend of mine seriously damaged his hand – including bones and tendons – on a circular saw. He lost all feeling in it, and would drop pints of beer because he couldn’t feel the glass in his fingers; or would smell ‘cooking’ and realise his cigarette had burnt down to the stub and was melting his flesh! When his doctors discovered he played guitar they said it was brilliant natural rehab; and although it took him time he did get back to playing and regained much of his facility when the nerves and tendons knitted back and the muscles regained strength.
There are various hand-held training devices that promise miracle cures for everything from carpal tunnel syndrome to shattered bones after an accident. We’re not here to offer recommendation but it might be worth chatting to your physio about these to see what he or she thinks; and whether a combination of exercises, guitar playing and a device like a Powerball might speed things along. I’d love to be able to wave a magic wand over your injuries. Unfortunately I can’t, but I’m sure a combined regime with guitar (and possibly other instruments you play that exercise different muscle groups) at the centre of it would make your physical rehab a far more rewarding experience.
We do have many doctor readers of GT, so I wonder if one of them might write in with some medically sound advice. Most of all, good luck and we all hope you get back to playing soon!
Any professionals out there with some injury rehab advice for Peter?