The Future of Dystonia Rehabilitation: Neuroplasticity-Based Interventions in the Performing Arts

February 08, 2018

Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, Room 140, 500 University Avenue, M5G 1V7

This event is part of our Research for Practice (R4P) Talk Series.

Hosted by University of Toronto Rehabilitation Sciences Institute.

Click here to download the event poster.

Since 1996, Dr. Joaquin Farias has been a leading researcher and clinician treating dystonia in performing artists using the Farias Technique. In this Talk, Dr. Farias offers insight into his ground-breaking work and illuminates the future of dystonia rehabilitation.

Over the last two decades, Dr. Farias has worked to provide effective alternative and complementary care for patients affected by dystonia, a neurological disorder in which the brain sends incorrect information to the muscles, resulting in involuntary muscle contractions. Dr. Farias considers dystonia to be a temporary lack or loss of accuracy and precision in brain activity. For this reason, Dr. Farias’ Movement Therapy aims to retune the brain and restore proper function of cognitive processes, perception and motor functions.

Dr. Farias pioneered new theories to use Movement Therapy to induce neuroplasticity and bring about changes to the brain. In this talk, he will explore how his treatments leverage the connections between emotions and movement with special attention to the role that rhythm and timing play in coordination.

Please note: while knowledge of medical terminology may be useful, this event is open to all. We especially encourage students in health-related fields to attend.

Key Takeaways

  • Insight into Dr. Farias’ Movement Therapy to treat focal dystonia
  • Connection between emotions and movement, and how rhythm and timing affect coordination
  • Future of treating dystonia for performing artists


Dr. Joaquin Farias is a leading specialist treating dystonia with movement therapy. He has a Doctorate in biomechanics, as well as Master’s degrees in neuropsychological rehabilitation, psychosociology, and ergonomics. With a background in music from Granada, Madrid, Utrecht and Oxford, Dr. Farias graduated with four Bachelor’s of Music degrees (Piano, Flute, Chamber Music and Music Theory) and with an Advanced Performance Diploma in Voice (countertenor).

Since 1996 Dr. Farias has helped more than 1000 people have their lives and livelihoods back after being affected by different movement disorders characterized by dystonia, tremors and other problems with coordination. Dr. Farias has served as a coach to Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical, Philips and EMI musicians, Olympic athletes, and principal dancers, helping them to recover from focal dystonia and other practice-related disorders.

He is the director of the Neuroplastic Training Institute Toronto and Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto where he teaches health in music performance and undertakes research at the Music and Health Research Collaboratory (MaHRC).

Dr. Farias has published three books on dystonia, including Limitless: How Your Movements Can Heal Your Brain, an essay on the neurodynamics of dystonia; Intertwined: How To Induce Neuroplasticity, a new approach to rehabilitating dystonias; and Rebellion of the Body: Understanding Musicians’ Focal Dystonia.

He has been a guest lecturer at Tokyo University, Berklee College of Music in Boston, State University of New York (SUNY), Norwegian Academy of Music, Toronto Western Hospital, Montreal General Hospital, Helsinki Conservatorium, and the Barenboim-Said Foundation. Dr. Farias has also served as an ergonomics advisor to the Finish Opera House, Oslo Philarmonic Orchestra, Federation Internationale des Musiciens, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Orquesta Nacional de España, Conservatorio Superior de música de Sevilla, Finish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Spanish National Youth Orchestra.

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Dr. Joaquin Farias




Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, Room 140, 500 University Avenue, M5G 1V7




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“I simply cannot believe that we have such an incredible resource in our city and I encourage every performing arts training institution to take advantage of it. Many of our students now use the services of The Al & Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre on a regular basis.”

- Paul de Jong, Theatre Performance Program