Music is Vijay Chalasani’s world. The 28-year-old is a professional violist and a doctoral student in the UW School of Music. He performs, he travels, he teaches.
Like most of us, Chalasani was far too busy to worry about his health. Until he had to, that is. In early 2017, Chalasani was leaving a concert when he tripped and fell. He broke his fall, but, in the process, he broke his right arm.
“I’ve fallen like that a hundred times before, and nothing’s happened,” says Chalasani ruefully. “I couldn’t believe that this time I broke a bone.”
For a musician, this kind of injury is a calamity. It keeps them from doing what they love. It prevents them from practicing. And they worry that they won’t recover completely — that they’ll lose some level of musical skill. When they seek out medical care, they’re putting their career in their doctor’s hands.
At Harborview Medical Center, Stephen A. Kennedy, M.D., operated on Chalasani’s arm, setting the broken bones and screwing in a metal plate to hold them together. After six weeks, it was time to remove the cast and find out whether Chalasani could play again — so he brought his viola along to his check-up.
“I was eager to play, but I was also concerned,” says Chalasani. “Two months was the longest amount of time I’d gone without playing the viola or violin for the last 10 years or more.”
After the cast was taken off, both doctor and patient were delighted to hear the sweet sounds emanating from Chalasani’s viola.
“It was wonderful to see him take out his bow and his viola and play music right after having his cast removed,” says Kennedy.
After physical therapy at Harborview, Chalasani is back to a normal practice and travel schedule. His fingers are still a bit stiff from disuse, but every week, it gets a little easier.
“I’m so relieved that the injury didn’t cost me my skills, my livelihood,” says Chalasani. “And I think about the wonderful care I received every time I play. Thank you, Harborview!”