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The Case of the Concert Pianist

by Dr Neil Slade(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 98 - April 2004

When Bryan first came to see me he was getting increasingly well known as a concert pianist on the international circuit. A month before his appointment he had been in America on a concert tour. On a day off a friend had taken him to a pub and whilst unwinding over a drink a fight had broken out near to where Bryan was sitting. As he got up to move away from the area he tripped over a fallen stool and fell.

Unfortunately, he was still holding his pint glass at the time. The glass smashed in his right hand and slashed across his palm, thumb and two fingers. He had several deep cuts and could not move his thumb and fingers. He consulted a specialist in the USA who determined that several tendons and a couple of nerves had been completely severed. Bryan required surgery to reconnect these.

After the operation Bryan saw the specialist who informed him that, although he would have feeling in his hand, and probably be able to play the piano again, his concert career was over. Bryan came to consult me as he had heard that homeopathy could improve the healing outcome. He wanted his career back!

My first impression was that there was a good chance we might not see any improvement. After all, it was a month after the accident and he had a large amount of scar tissue in his hand that restricted movement. However, he was undaunted, and as I always take my cue from my patients, I set about making an assessment of the situation.

On examining his hand, he could not make a fist without pain or feeling like there was a mass of tissue in his hand (this would be the build up of scar tissue). He could not touch his fourth or little finger tips with his thumb, nor could he spread his fingers to cover an octave on the keyboard. He had little feeling in the ball of his thumb, index finger and middle finger. If I am being completely honest, the more I made the assessment, the more my heart sank regarding the prognosis. We then went on to a full case taking – I wasn't quite sure how I was going to treat him so I wanted as much information as possible. I had several options open to me, for example constitutional or therapeutic prescribing, and I wanted to make sure I had covered all bases when it came to the analysis of the case and the selection of the remedy.

Apart from the trauma to his hand Bryan was a very fit man. His diet was excellent and he exercised regularly. He thrived on his performing and did not have any related stresses or anxieties. In fact, since his career had been jeopardized, he said that he knew what it was to be down for the first time in his life. It seemed that the only problem in the case was the damage to his hand and because of this, I decided to use tissue salts to treat him.

Tissue salts and their application were first developed by Dr Wilhelm Schussler (1821-1898) in 1873. Schussler argued that these were quite different to homeopathic remedies having a different mode of action, but today tissue salts are generally accepted to be a branch of homeopathy, albeit on a more nutritive level. The twelve tissue salts are based on inorganic salts that are found naturally in the body's cells.

One of the beauties of tissue salts is that they can be given in combination and repeated on a regular basis.

Once the method of treatment had been decided upon, I had to determine which tissue salts to prescribe. I decided on a combination of calcarea fluorica, magnesia phosphorica and silica. This combination was to target the damaged nerves and tendons, encouraging efficient healing and also to try and reduce the build up of scar tissue in Bryan's palm. He was advised to take the remedies three times a day ongoing. He had also been given some exercises and massage movements to do by a physiotherapist. I advised him to keep this up.

I saw Bryan three weeks later and his hand had improved markedly. The visual scarring was still very apparent, but the deeper mass of scar tissue was not as dense and he could touch all of his fingertips to his thumb and also span an octave. However, he was having excruciating electric shock-like pains shooting from his hand to his elbow. The pains were worse at night preventing him from sleeping.

This pain is a typical nerve pain. On the one hand, I was pleased he was experiencing it as it showed the nerves were mending, but of course I didn't want him in any pain or losing healing sleep. He had attempted a few piano exercises, but found that they made his hand ache. I advised him to leave the piano alone for a few more weeks, but to continue with the tissue salts ongoing, and the exercises and massages. I also prescribed him Hypericum 200c in a single dose for the nerve pain. I telephoned Bryan a couple of days later to assess the pains, I was delighted to hear that they had got less frequent and less intense before disappearing completely.

At the next appointment, four weeks later, Bryan's hand had shown a further improvement. He could clench a tight fist without the sensation of a mass of tissue in his palm and did not have any pain. We carried on with the treatment and he started piano practice. At a two month follow up he was practising 8 hours a day and had accepted his first concert date since the accident. His hand still showed the visual scarring and he still had some numbness in one finger, but he was able to play the piano as before. At this point we stopped all treatment.


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About Dr Neil Slade

Dr Neil Slade  PhD LCH RSHom. Neil is a senior lecturer at two leading complementary therapy colleges and has two busy homeopathic practices. He is the Deputy Director of Pure Medicine in London's Harley Street. He regularly contributes articles to the national press, radio and television. Neil can be contacted on Tel: 01372 361669;

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