About Dr Bronwen Ackermann

My passion is working to enhance the health and performance capabilities of musicians and developing effective injury prevention strategies for musical performers.

In my research, investigations have included working with academic colleagues, health practitioners and musicians to build an evidence base to better understand how to prevent and manage injuries in this specialised occupational group. Studies to date include: • descriptive studies highlighting the scope of the problems in professional and student musicians • effect of scapula taping on muscle activity and performance quality in elite violinists • exercise intervention trial to improve physical condition in music students • qualitative motion analysis to aim to better understand how to identify movement pattern abnormalities in musicians • evaluation of an intervention trial for focal hand dystonia • the effect of physical anthropometrics on performer-instrument interface • investigations into finger movement discrimination ability in cellists and non-musicians • flute player pain, anxiety and muscle activity characteristics • PRMD characteristics of bassoonists • soft-palate dysfunction in wind instrumentalists • the effect of posture on breathing and face muscle function in wind instrumentalists

My career in research started late, following 18 years of successful clinical practice as a physiotherapist. Having seen many injuries in musical performers over the years and working internationally with musicians and the performing arts medicine community I became keen to try and expand our understanding of the causes and best management strategies of injuries occurring commonly in these performers. My initial interest resulted in a PhD, followed by some part time post-doctoral research until deciding to seriously pursue a career in academia in 2006. I have two large complementary grant projects running. One is an ARC linkage project looking at Occupational health and Safety in professional Orchestral Musicians over a 5 year period. I am the lead investigator on this project, and have 2 co-investigators, Associate Professor Tim Driscoll (from the University of Sydney School of Public Health specialising in occupational medicine and epidemiology) and Professor Dianna Kenny (specialising in music performance anxiety) to bring a breadth of experience to the team that will ensure the project"s success. I am one of the chief investigators on a 2 year Australia Learning and Teaching Council Grant entitled "A Musicians Health Curriculum Initiative" with Dr Suzanne Wijsman from the School of Music at the University of Western Australia. Both these projects provide opportunities for student involvement One final funded grant project being undertaken this year is investigating the relationship between posture, breathing and muscle activity patterns in wind instrumentalists in collaboration with Associate Professor Nick O'Dwyer and Dr Mark Halaki from the School of Exercise and Sports Science. There are two students involved currently with this project. I have published in relevant journals and two books over the last 7 years. I am the Chair of the International Liaison Committee of the Performing Arts Medicine Association, and the current president of the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare. As a lecturer in functional musculoskeletal anatomy in the discipline of biomedical science I enjoy linking the musculoskeletal basis of movement, injury and function to teaching with the new students. In my role on the editorial board of the Medical Problems of Performing Artists journal and by presenting at health and music conferences both nationally and internationally I continue to work to better advance the evidence-base for performing arts medicine.

Undertaking research in my field of interest is helping to change the culture of health within the musical workplace and provide more evidence for best healthcare practices. There is still much work to be done and I would like to work with students and professionals to mentor them to continue and develop further work in this exciting and rewarding new field of medicine.

Selected publications

For a comprehensive list of Dr Ackermann's publications, please visit her Sydney Medical School profile page.