Playing-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (PRMDs) in Irish traditional fiddle players

Mark Porter, Iseult M Wilson, Liz Doherty, Justin Magee

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Objectives: Much of the literature around PRMDs relates to classical musicians. Previous research by this team identified that that PRMDs are a problem for Irish traditional musicians, and that there are unique issues for Irish traditional musicians, especially fiddle players (Wilson et al, 2013; Doherty et al, 2013). The aim of the survey was to determine the extent and type of PRMDs within Irish traditional fiddle players. Methods: Ethical approval was obtained from the Ulster University Faculty of Arts and Research Governance Filter Committee. A bespoke survey tool was developed and included sections on demographics and injuries (site, type and aggravating factors). The survey was piloted and administered on-line via All Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) on the island of Ireland that included the study of Irish traditional music were identified. Key individuals were contacted and informed of the study. Those that consented to participate provided the contact details of people (faculty and students) who met the inclusion criteria: over 18 years old and currently involved in the music program in the HEI, and the fiddle must be the main instrument. A link to the survey with an information sheet was sent to all identified students and staff (n = 107). Completion of the survey was deemed to be consent. Data were inputted into SPSS, anonymised, cleaned and analysed using descriptive statistics and non-parametric tests (as the data were not normally distributed). Results: Seven HEIs participated and there was a response rate of 72% (n = 79). There were more women than men (women: 58%, n = 46; men: 42%, n = 33), the mean age was 35 years (± 12.5) and most were right-handed (86%, n = 68). The prevalence of PRMDs was 78% (n = 56) with pain (68.1%, n = 49), stiffness (45.8%, n = 33) and tingling (38.9%, n = 28) being the most common problems. The majority of respondents (74.7%, n = 59) played at least one other musical instrument and the mean hours playing in an average week were 10.52 (± 9.26) for the fiddle and 6.65 (± 6.19) for the other instrument. There were no statistically significant findings in relation to the prevalence of PRMDs and gender, age, handedness and the hours played in an average week. The mean hours playing the fiddle in a busy week (for example during a festival) rose to 19:96 (± 17.06) and there was a statistically significant association between the development of PRMDs and the number of hours of playing music in a busy week. Conclusion: PRMDs are common within Irish traditional fiddle players and seem to be associated with playing for long lengths of time. There are physical, psychological and financial consequences for a musician with PRMDs (Wilson et al, 2013). Further research should investigate interventions to reduce PRMDs, especially during times of increased playing and performance
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
Number of pages1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Jul 2016
EventIrish Society of Chartered Physiotherapy - Wexford, Ireland
Duration: 26 Jul 2016 → …


ConferenceIrish Society of Chartered Physiotherapy
Period26/07/16 → …


  • Playing-related musculoskeletal disorders
  • PRMDs
  • Irish traditional musicians


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    Porter, M., Magee, J., Doherty, L. & Wilson, IM., 24 May 2018, IPC No. G10D 3/16 (2006.01), World Intellectual Property Organisation, Patent No. WO 2018/091399 A1, 13 Nov 2017, Priority date 15 Nov 2016, Priority No. 1619317.9

    Research output: Patent

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