Dance medicine: connecting athletic training with the performing arts

Athletic trainers are trained and educated in the prevention, assessment, evaluation, and rehabilitation of injuries in the athletic population. Within the last twenty years, the interest in athletic trainers from the performing arts world has increased. Dance medicine is a developing field that deals with the musculoskeletal injuries that are specific to dance. Professional dance companies have begun to provide dance medicine services to their performers by hiring athletic trainers. Although professional dancers are starting to receive these services, there are many universities that offer a dance program, yet the number of onsite dance medicine services is not documented. The purpose of this study was to develop a better understanding of the role of the athletic trainer in dance studies and to provide evidence of the benefit of athletic training care to collegiate dancers. A questionnaire was sent out to 43 university dance program directors via email. Attached in the email were links to 5 surveys. The program directors were asked to complete the survey titled for them, and then to forward the email onto athletic trainers that work with dancers, physical therapists that work with dancers, and dance students that work with an athletic trainer or physical therapist. Input from all the parties would help to gain more complete feedback from those involved with the dance programs. It was hypothesized that dancers that had a dance medicine facility available to them would utilize the facility, and that their injury rate and re-occurrence rate of injury would decrease. It was concluded that although the medical professionals and dancers felt comfortable with one another, having a dance medicine facility, did not influence injury rate or injury re-occurrence rate. When given a list of medical professionals, program directors were more likely to refer the dancers to a doctor first if they were to get hurt. The dancers were also more likely to seek out medical attention from a doctor first if they were to get hurt. The medical professionals and dancers had similar views when it came to the importance of certain things such as: if a medical professional should be present during rehearsals or a performance, if the medical professionals should have previous experience with dance, and if athletic training services should be available for dancers. Lastly, dancers were asked to give their definition of an athletic trainer. Many of the dancers did not answer the question; however those that did were unable to given an accurate definition. The dancers defined an athletic trainer similar to a personal trainer, or one who designs workout regimes to help individuals reach their fitness goals. Although two of the hypotheses of this study were unable to be proven, the results of the study are congruent with other studies on dancers and medical professionals. Dancers will commonly seek nontraditional sources of medical attention for injuries or will not seek medical attention at all. This is partially due to reasons such as social, aesthetic, economical and psychological factors of dance.