Occupational dystonia is a frequent clinical symptom in musicians and has been described as muscle spasms and hand cramps in pianists. Robert Schumann had a neurological impairment of his right hand that was not clinically diagnosed during his life and that impaired his career as pianist from his early 20s. This disturbance was characterized by pain and by rigidity of the fingers, which extended to other segments of his right upper extremity while he was performing and that increased with stress and improved with muscle relaxation. This disturbance produced a progressive impairment of his writing. We here hypothesize that Schumann's neurological problem was consistent with dystonia.
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