Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Lack of Symmetry in Facial Muscles of Musicians with Embouchure Dystonia

Can you see how my embouchure muscles are affected in each photo by the dystonia? 

Photo #1: Air leak in lower lip on left side, corner dropping, lower lip will not seal or stay rolled in. Whereas the right side functions normally. Left side of face is not as responsive, and right overcompensates.

Photo #2 & 3: When talking/speaking, right side/upper lip arches when left side doesn't.
This is a great example of the lack of symmetry that embouchure dystonia can create in the facial muscle function, and how it carries over to other activities outside of horn playing sometimes (not always in movement tasks, but in looks as well).

It can be confusing at first because the right side of my face has tremors and does a lot of movement when playing, when actually it is the left side that is the issue....even though it looks calm, it is the side that is the most dysfunctional and non-responsive.

What has always captured my attention is that several musician's I have met or spoken to with embouchure dystonia have the same type of lack of symmetry in their face. My family members even noticed it back then. This is something I feel a lot of us share and is the most brought up subject in conversation when meeting.

The lack of symmetry is actually common among dystonia sufferers in general. Check out this video of Dr. Farais (neurologist from Toronto) speaking about dystonia below. It is quite remarkable seeing the recoveries. But I wanted to share it because he talks about this commonality of lack of control on one side of the body, and the 3 primary areas it effects.