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The Collegiate Irish Dancer's Experience of Injury: A Qualitative Study

Owen Higginbotham, Roisin Cahalan
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 35 Number 1: Page 1 (March 2020)

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Abstract: OBJECTIVES: A high incidence of injury is reported amongst student and professional dancers, impacting negatively upon the quality of life and biopsychological health of dancers. Research examining the impact of injury on Irish dancing (ID) students is lacking. There is a need to understand dancer's emotional and cognitive reaction to injury, to inform management strategies for same. METHODS: Fifteen fulltime university students of ID participated in two semi-structured focus groups interviews. Transcribed interviews were analysed using a bottom-up inductive approach. RESULTS: Thematic analysis of the data collected produced three themes and a number of associated subthemes: Theme 1: cognitive, emotional and behavioural responses, with three subthemes (questioning, feelings and emotions, dancer identity and subculture of risk); Theme 2: management strategies, with two subthemes (resilience, evaluating injury risk); and Theme 3: social supports, with two subthemes (personal relationships, professional relationships). CONCLUSIONS: Students of ID experience significant psychosocial challenges when they are injured, many of which are negative. The importance of dancer identity combined with a subculture of injury concealment and perseverance may compromise the optimal management of dancer injury. Social supports are critical in facilitating successful management of injury. A disconnect exists between dancers and healthcare professionals when seeking medical treatment.

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