Clinic for injured musicians expands

The Guidonian Therapy Clinic in Uptown Waterloo held an open house on Friday, welcoming their clients and the community to re-launch the newly expanded clinic.

Guidonian offers highly focused therapy, treating injuries that musicians suffer as a result of the strain of playing their instruments.

All of the staff members are musically trained, ensuring that they are able to fully relate to their patients’ experiences.

As Laurier graduate and founder of Guidonian Sara-Lynn Weiler explains, there is no other clinic with such focus in the area.

The collaboration of a team of therapists in addressing clients sets it apart from other treatment facilities.

When seeing a patient, Weiler, a massage therapist and pilates instructor, and her colleagues, chiropractor Dr. Jay Weiler, and massage therapist Karin Schasny, work together on the case.

There is also a second pilates instructor and yoga teacher on staff.

Conferring on patients’ problems, according to Weiler, not only allows staff to use individual experiences to help shed light on the situation but also ensures that the practitioners are all familiar with patients’ backgrounds, which makes the healing process faster and less stressful.

Weiler started the business out of her home, to which the new part of the clinic is still attached.

The primary reason she cites as the motivation for physical expansion of the Uptown establishment is that she simply outgrew this initial space.

The practice has been gradually growing since she founded it in 1999, with the addition of new staff and different forms of treatment.

“It had always been my goal, my big dream, to have a multidisciplinary clinic,” said Weiler.

The clinic currently offers some nutritional counselling, though Sara-Lynn Weiler expressed her ambition to eventually have a naturopath on staff as well. “We think that could be a really beneficial aspect,” she said.

Personal experience was a major source of inspiration for Weiler in founding the clinic. “I lost all my feeling in my hands,” said Weiler, reflecting on her time at Laurier as a piano major.

“At my worst moment, I couldn’t open a door or even lift a fork for myself.”

During Weiler’s healing process, it was difficult for her to find a practitioner who truly understood her situation. Four and a half years of therapy motivated her to provide treatment specifically for musicians.

As musicians themselves, Guidonian staff members are committed to finding and addressing the root cause, and not merely patching the physical problem.

“We do a physical assessment without their instruments,” explains Weiler, “Then we often ask them to take their instruments.” This process allows therapists to identify the underlying stressors.

According to Weiler, “A lot of [students] practice or play upwards of eight hours a day.” Repetitive actions in playing an instrument create significant tension, as it involves greater physical and emotional intensity than a lot of other careers.

Guidonian treats a balance of both music students and professionals, including Laurier faculty and members of the symphony.

However, outside of those in institutionalized musical careers like the orchestra and education, Guidonian does not have a lot of professional musicians as patients.

Weiler commented that this could be attributed to the potential lack of health care benefits of many musicians.

Weiler also conducts workshops related to her practice. “I talk about recognizing patterns … addressing things before they happen, not after the fact.”

Her long-term goal is to implement a course for music students at Laurier on the topic of prevention of music-vrelated injuries.

“That for me,” stated Weiler, “is a really important thing – the education of it.”