musings of a professional bassoonist

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Another good reason to play the bassoon (maybe we can use this information to attract new students.....)

Medical News: APSS: Playing a Bassoon Protects Against Sleep Apnea - in Meeting Coverage, APSS from MedPage Today

Playing a Bassoon Protects Against Sleep Apnea

By Paula Moyer, Contributing Writer, MedPage Today
Published: June 10, 2009
Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and
Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner
SEATTLE, June 10 -- Compared with other members of an orchestra, musicians who played a high-resistance woodwind instrument were less likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea, researchers found.

In a study of 901 professional musicians, the woodwind players also had a lower risk of apnea than did singers or conductors, according to Christopher P. Ward, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, who reported the findings at the meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies here.

High-resistance woodwind instruments are those in the double-reed category, such as oboes, English horns, and bassoons.

The protective effect was only observed in those musicians who practiced an average of three hours a day, Dr. Ward said.

A musician himself -- he plays the trumpet and once served as interim band conductor at a college where he was teaching -- Dr. Ward said he did not know the exact mechanism that protects double-reed musicians.

Based on results of this study, Dr. Ward theorized that training sleep apnea patients to play double-reed instruments could be therapeutic.

However, Dr. Ward acknowledged that novices were unlikely to rapidly develop the needed embouchure -- the movement of facial muscles and placement of lip and tongue that allow music to be played on a wind instrument -- to sustain at least three hours of practice every day.

Dennis Nicholson, M.D., of the Sleep Disorders Center of Pomona Valley Hospital in Pomona, Calif., said it was possible that the embouchure specific to the double-reed instrument has characteristics that would help sleep apnea patients.

"This is a continuation of some previous literature that suggested that muscle training can improve sleep apnea, at least in some patients," said Dr. Nicholson, who was not involved in the study.

According to Dr. Nicholson, previous studies of musicians and obstructive sleep apnea revealed varying results among those who played wind instruments.

Dr. Nicholson suggested that a useful target for study would be identification of the specific muscle groups that are involved in playing a double-reed instrument so that patients could be trained in exercises using those muscles.

That, he said, would be a more practical application than attempting to teach patients to play double-reed instruments.

And, while Dr. Nicholson said he believes the finding deserves further study, he cautioned that the analysis was based on self-reported data as to practice time and apnea diagnosis.

Dr. Ward and colleagues followed 901 professional musicians. In the group overall, 41 (4.6%) reported an obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis and 29.2% were at high risk for it.

There was no statistically significant difference between instrumentalists, of whom 29.1% were at high risk, and noninstrumentalists -- conductors and singers -- of whom 33.3% were at high risk.

When the investigators analyzed the risk of apnea according to instrument type, the rate of high risk for those who played high-resistance woodwinds was significantly lower than it was for noninstrumentalists and for other instrumentalists (P=0.049).


Dr. Ward said that he received no outside funding for the study.

7 comments:

RWRoesch said...

I was diagnosed with apnea years ago, and I'm quite interested in sharing this sort of study with my psychiatrist and sleep doctor. Considering how much it costs for the overnight sleep studies and those CPAP machines reminiscent of Ridley Scott's Alien movie, I think buying a bassoon might be the cheaper alternative!

B.S. said...

Will, you may not actually have to learn to play the bassoon. I can hook you up with a few reeds, and if you spend 3 hours a day blowing into them as if you're playing the bassoon, it's possible that your problem will be solved!

Rich said...

From my brief experience with the oboe many years ago I would have to say that bassoon is not as "high-resistance" as that or trumpet.

As an aside there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that playing any kind of wind instrument is beneficial to asthma. My wife is an oboist and when she misses several days of practice for any reason, her breathing difficulties increase.

Mip said...

Hi! Umm, well, this has nothing to do with the post (cool, by the way!) but I was hoping you could help me. See, I started last year on a plastic student model Fox, which I had to give up because I couldn't afford the rent (9th grade), so, after way too much debate, my teacher 'bought' me a bassoon (a friend found it in an attic). Anyway, its a Bundy model 1432 by the Selmer company and I was just wondering if I should go try to rent a different one. Basically, whats the quality?
Thanks,
Bassoonist-to-be

B.S. said...

Hi Mip. There are good and bad examples of every brand of bassoons, but in general, the Fox bassoons seem to work best for students. Have you played on the Bundy yet? How is it? It probably needs work in order to play its best. If you can get it to a competent repairman, then you'd be able to really tell if it's going to be an acceptable instrument for you.

Good luck, and I'd love to hear how this turns out.

Betsy

Tina B. said...

Just saw this... I have obstructive sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine. I wonder if I got back into playing again if it would help!

B.S. said...

Tina, I'd say go with the bassoon playing! Apnea cure would be just one of the many benefits!!

Betsy