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Traumatic Injuries in Professional Dance--Past and Present: Ballet Injuries in Berlin, 1994/95 and 2011/12

Eileen M. Wanke, Franziska Koch, Jeremy Leslie-Spinks, David A. Groneberg
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 29 Number 3: Page 168 (September 2014)

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Abstract: OBJECTIVE: The physical requirement profile for professional dancers has changed significantly during the past decades. The aim of this first comparative study is to present a differentiated analysis of work-related traumatic injuries sustained by professional ballet dancers at the end of the 20th century (1994/95) and now (2011/12). METHODS: The data for evaluation were obtained from work accident reports (n=241; 1994/95, n=155; 2011/12, n=86) from three Berlin theatres. RESULTS: An increase in incidence of injuries could be observed only in male dancers (0.3 injuries/yr in 1994/95 vs 0.4/yr in 2011/12). Numerous significant differences were found between injuries in the earlier time span and in the present. Movement contents resulting in traumatic injuries have changed. Furthermore, differences as to injury types, injured body region, nature of causes, dance activities prior to injury, and attitude after sustaining an occupational accident were observed. The lower extremity remained the most common injury site (66.7% in 1994/95 vs 57.0% in 2011/12, p=0.697). The frequency rate of traumatic injuries to the spine has increased significantly (13.5% in 1994/95 vs 24.1% in 2011/12, p=0.026), with injuries to the lumbar spine region more than tripled (5.8% vs 20.3% respectively). Few deviations were observed as to injury locations and organizational and time aspects (e.g., time of year of injury). CONCLUSION: Dance is progressing as evidenced by the numerous aspects resulting in traumatic injuries. It is not organizational or time changes but rather work- and content-related factors that result in significant differences between past and present injuries.

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