Evaluation and treatment of out of the ordinary athletes

Evaluation and treatment of out of the ordinary athletes

Dancers need rehabilitation professionals who can assess and treat them effectively.

Athletes all have their own particularities depending on the sport they practice, each with challenges and facilitators. The dancers are first and foremost artists, but they also have the physical abilities of top athletes (for the skeptics of this world: https://ici.radio-canada.ca/info/videos/media-8027964/ podium great-ballet-dancer-Canadian athlete tests documentary). In professional companies and pre-professional schools, many have rehabilitation professionals who are well versed in dance and have many years of experience in the field. What about recreational dancers, small companies, and college and high school programs? The demands on young athletes are becoming increasingly important as injuries increase with the steady pace of training. These dancers need physiotherapists who can evaluate and treat them effectively.

Many dancers will be used to seeing a rehabilitation professional. However, a large proportion continue with other health professionals. The causes are varied and may range from an entrenched belief, teacher advice or suboptimal experiences in rehabilitation. For example, many still consult their practitioner when injured. Nonetheless, when the diagnosis is made by a physician, twice as many cases will stop dancing than when a rehabilitation professionals establishes the diagnosis. In addition, when the dancer is forced to stop dancing, returning to the sport requires significantly less days when he was followed in rehabilitation. However, these are rehabilitation professionals with expertise in this area. Outside major centers, it is sometimes difficult to find a rehabilitation professional whose expertise is precisely what dancers need, sometimes resulting in suboptimal experiences for dancers. It is difficult, if not impossible, to apply the criteria and scales that are commonly used with athlete populations in the evaluation of dancers.

Dancers are a population of out of the ordinary athletes. They have a strength and power similar to the recognized athletes, but combine great flexibility. In order not to hurt themselves, the dancers must therefore have an impeccable motor control to manage the extent of the considerable range of motion they demonstrate. These are concepts that apply well, for example to baseball players who are obliged to have good shoulder flexibility, which makes them vulnerable to injury in this region. With dancers, this principle extends to the whole body, from the thumb to the big toe, passing by the shoulders, the hips and the knees.

Dance is an art and a sport that requires the execution of precise movements, supported by a technique perfected during several years of training. The most common injuries vary a lot depending on the experience. For example, young dancers often find it difficult to adopt a good “ouverture” position. While more advanced dancers know it, the younger ones still have trouble understanding the subtlety between a simple opening of the feet and the initiation of movement by the hips, which often causes knee pain.

Here are the important points to remember when evaluating and treating dancers:

In sum, dancers are a population at high risk of injury with special characteristics. They are athletes, but also artists. Studies have shown that the involvement of rehabilitation professionals in diagnosis, but also in treatment and prevention is highly beneficial in terms of absences and costs related to injuries.


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