Injuries in a Professional Ballet Dance Company: A 10-year Retrospective Study

Prem N Ramkumar, Joseph Farber, Johnny Arnouk, Kevin E Varner, Patrick C Mcculloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ballet dancers are high-performance athletes who are particularly susceptible to a wide variety of musculoskeletal injuries. However, they are relatively understudied, and data on their injury rates are lacking. This retrospective study features the largest aggregate data on professional ballet dancers to date and aims to identify the most common diagnoses and areas of injury in this unique population to better direct preventative and clinical practices. The study encompassed a 10-year period from January 2000 to December 2010 of dancers from a single company. Data regarding the dancers' age, gender, location of injury, and diagnosis were collected from workers' compensation claims, company records, and medical records maintained by the treating doctors. These were analyzed to determine metrics on injury incidence, frequency, and diagnosis. Over the 10-year span, 574 injuries occurred. There were approximately 52 dancers per year for a total of 153 who danced at least one complete season during the study period. The average age was 27, and 53% were female. Given turnover with retirement and replacements, the total number of dancer-years was 520, indicating an injury incidence per annum of 1.10 (574 injuries per 520 dancer-years). The most common locations of injury were foot and ankle and the lumbar spine, with the three most common diagnoses making up greater than a third (37%) of the total. As the current largest study in professional ballet, the findings set the benchmark metrics for musculoskeletal injury to the foot, ankle, and lumbar spine sites. Future studies should aim to identify injury risk factors and modalities for prevention of these injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of dance medicine & science : official publication of the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Keywords

  • Journal Article

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