Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Disability studies and performing arts medicine

Alex Lubet
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 17 Number 2: Page 59 (June 2002)

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Abstract: My introduction to the emerging field of disability studies (DS) was not by accident, but by injury. A professor of music composition and theory who uses piano and computer keyboards extensively, performs on acoustic guitar, electric bass, and mandolin, and handwrites a great deal, I have coped with pain and functional limitations from spinal and upper limb injuries for years. In 1999, on disability leave, recovering from neurosurgery for cervical disk herniation, I read a call for papers on disability and the performing arts. Intrigued, I immersed myself in DS literature, and began to participate in the Society for Disability Studies and to engage in research, teaching, and creative projects on disability topics.
I address the community of practitioners formed around the Performing Arts Medicine Association and Medical Problems of Performing Artists, because I find it exceptionally humane and humanistic. I believe DS and medical research can be complementary rather than'as the former often supposes'oppositional. I regard medical research as essential to DS and particularly disability pedagogy, where the arts also play an important role.
This introduction to DS requires that I proceed from medicine in general to performing arts medicine in particular. I request your patience and promise it will be amply rewarded.

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