Physical therapy grad helps injured musicians play for keeps

Inspired by her brother's struggles with tendonitis, Alex Brohman knew she'd found her calling when she created a guide to help pianists deal with injuries.

Tia Lalani - 04 June 2019

Alex Brohman put her physical therapy studies to use creating a guide to help musicians recover from painful injuries-including her brother, who struggled with tendonitis. "It showed me I have a lot to contribute," she said. (Photo: Richard Siemens)


Helping people deal with their aches and pains makes Alex Brohman happy, but when she saw her musician brother hurting, she decided to up her game as a physical therapy student.

Brohman, who is graduating with a master of science degree from the University of Alberta's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, used one of her courses at Augustana Campus to create a handy booklet to help piano players avoid and treat their injuries.

It was an experience that has her feeling excited about her chosen profession.

"The biggest thing I'm taking away from the U of A, and especially from the course, is that I do have valuable knowledge and skills to make a difference for people," she said.

Brohman, 27, was already working as a physiotherapy assistant in a Calgary clinic when she became aware of her brother's injuries. As a percussionist playing everything from the drums to the triangle, he had developed tendonitis in both elbows and was constantly icing and stretching them to deal with his muscle pain.

"As an undergraduate music student, he had to practise constantly and ended up with this condition. Rest is usually a part of recovery, but that wasn't possible for him.

"As a big sister, I wanted to do everything I could to help, so I was trying to give him suggested stretches."

He learned to cope through massage and physiotherapy, but even so, the problem still flared up, she said.


Among the requirements for her master's degree, Brohman needed to complete an elective course, and one option included a community health promotion component.

She saw an opportunity to help musicians like her brother.

"My idea was to develop some kind of resource to help musicians with injury prevention," she said.

She approached now-retired music professor and pianist Milton Schlosser, and the pair worked together to explore the types of injuries sustained by piano students and how to balance her knowledge as a physiotherapist with their knowledge of playing.

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