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Things Are Seldom What They Seem: The Wisdom of Dr. Alice Brandfonbrener

0 Ann Drinan

Dr. Alice Brandfonbrener is arguably the pre-eminent physician in the world of music medicine.  Several years ago, Polyphonic asked her to write an overview of her experience with common musician injuries, and give her advice to instrumentalists about finding the proper diagnosis and care.

She responded with a somewhat whimsical article, quoting Little Buttercup from HMS Pinafore, but full of excellent common-sense advice for getting sound medical care. She warns against self-diagnosis or “diagnosis by stand partner,” and offers a list of questions to ask yourself about your situation or injury, to assess whether it is serious or will go away by itself.  She states that, “more people walk into my office with a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, based on their stand partner’s diagnosis, than emerge from my office with that diagnosis.”

She offers advice on how to determine what are “good” sources of information on the Internet, and discusses the pros and cons of alternative medical procedures.

I had the good fortune to be Dr. Alice’s guest for lunch at her lake-side apartment when I was in Chicago for the League conference a few years back. She was as gracious in person as she was during our many telephone conversations. Over her long and distinguished career, she has taken enormous strides in advancing physicians’ understanding of the unique nature of musician health issues and injuries.

Dr. Brandfonbrener’s article is my first Editor’s Choice selection, as it is a must-read article for all instrumentalists and particularly those suffering an injury or chronic medical problem.

Click here to read Things Are Seldom What They Seem by Alice Brandfonbrener.


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