Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Research Christmas 2008: Music

Head and neck injury risks in heavy metal: head bangers stuck between rock and a hard bass

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 18 December 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2825

Rapid Response:

Left-right confusion!

The discrepancy in the pictures of the long-haired guitarist in the
paper version and the online version ties in nicely to the article on
p1426 (BMJ 2008;337:a2906). The online version shows the right-handed
picture which is correct, whereas the paper version has the guitarist
playing the guitar left-handed with the guitar upside down. Clearly there
were left-right coordination issues in the proof reading!!

Left-handed guitars are easily available (check; however, while Dr Nimmo may be accurate in his
comment, I would hasten to add that are many left-handed guitarists who
played a right handed-guitar upside down, classic examples being the late
Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain. Current lefties playing right handed
instruments turned around are Jimmy Haslip, bass player for the
Yellowjackets, to name a few. There is the odd right-handed bass plater
(Keith Horne) who has switched to playing left-handed with a bass turned
upside down which is a testament to their right-left coordination! There
are dedicated websites to support them (e.g. and
specific shops for lefties (

Right-left coordination is very important in surgery and is something
I try to impress on my trainees early on, especially in terms of making
progress during an operation. Interestingly, whether the gender basis for
co-ordination is something that might partially account for the male-
female number differences in surgery makes interesting speculation, having
worked with female surgeons with excellent right-left hand co-ordination,
though a non-randomised, and most likely completely non-scientific test
suggested one had 'male'-type control over this aspect!

Competing interests:
I am a right-handed vascular surgeon who plays a 6-string bass guitar, which requires a bit of left-right coordination, but I tie my knots left-handed, and occasionally cut and dissect left- handed as well!

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 December 2008
Arindam Chaudhuri
Consultant Vascular Surgeon
Bedford General Hospital, MK42 9DJ