Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The gift of writing. Is it a dying art?

I refer to neither the art of hand writing nor the typing on the computer nor the composition of stories kind. How many of us remember oh so well the beautiful art of ‘copy book writing’? Do you remember what it feels like to hold a fountain pen or nib pen for long periods of time so as to produce pages of that beautiful writing? Most people experienced at some time the feeling of a cramped hand. People with dystonia affecting their hands know what those cramps are like.

Writer’s cramp is a dystonia affecting the hands, otherwise known as a focal dystonia because it affects one area of the body. Dystonia is a painful neurological movement disorder. Just like our experiences with writing skills in years gone by, writer’s cramp seizes the person’s hands by muscular contractions preventing them from doing tasks such as writing or other actions of movement. Musicians can also develop a similar form of dystonia from their hands constantly conforming to specific positions required of them to play a particular instrument.

There are two types of writer’s cramp described as simple writer’s cramp and dystonic writer’s cramp. People suffering from simple writer’s cramp experience difficulty with only one specific task, such as writing. However, people suffering from Dystonic writer’s cramp are not limited to spasms in their hand or hands only when doing a specific task as mentioned above but rather, when doing other task specific activities too. These people may experience the muscular spasms when using cutlery, attending to personal grooming such as shaving, hair combing or applying makeup.

If you do not know about the affect upon people of this form of Dystonia, please browse through the sites above. Also, the film Twisted portrays the story of a musician who was unable to play for 30 years because of this type of dystonia. Botulinum Toxin injections helped the musician to regain his skill and play his piano once more.

If you would like to leave a message, please click on ‘comments’ below or email me on s.j.bayliss@bigpond.com.au and I will get back to you.

Sue Bayliss. Cairns, Australia.

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