Better Healthcare for Performing Artists

They Deserve It!

better healthcare performing artists

I used to have a list of stories as long as my arm from dancers and other performing artists frustrated by their visits to doctors. But, now that list is as long as both arms and both legs, with a high chance that I will need to add more appendages to keep count. Artists need better healthcare!

Few things make my blood boil faster than hearing about performing artists who have bad experiences with doctors or other healthcare workers. Caring for someone properly requires first a sense of compassion and, second, a willingness to help someone to the best of your ability. Why is this apparently so difficult?

Concussions During Theater

Performing Arts Need Concussion Attention Just Like Sports Get

concussions during theater

Concussions during theater? Yes, that’s right. They’re a huge problem that happen, for the most part, “off the grid.” In other words, they are not publicized, nor are they cared for properly most of the time.

As an athletic trainer, my education and licensing includes evaluating and caring for those who suffer concussions. Back in 2002, I chose to change my career direction and apply my skills to performing artists instead of traditional athletes. They have an enormous need for proper, specialized healthcare for concussions and every other injury they encounter. Today I lead a performing arts medicine program at Ohio University that I designed to meet the healthcare needs of the university’s performing arts students. But, I want to focus on theater here.

Musician Hearing Protection

Caring for a Huge Artistic Asset

Musician hearing protection

Here’s the new theme verse for a generation of musicians: “Eh? Say what? Can you speak up a bit louder, please!” Music-induced hearing disorders are a significant, yet underappreciated, problem in musicians of all genres. They also are worsening because of the multiple ways to generate noise in our society. Musician hearing protection is an important issue. After all, if a musician can’t hear, playing notes with accuracy becomes much more challenging…

Pointe Dancing: To Parents and Teachers

Five Tips for Starting On Pointe

Pointe Dancing Young Dancer

Pointe dancing is viewed as a rite of passage for girls in ballet. Of course, it is exhilarating when a young girl gets the “OK” from her teacher. Then Mom takes her to buy her first pointe shoes. But, under the best of circumstances this is a huge decision, one that could go very wrong very quickly…

Overcoming Limitations in Performing Arts

Rise Above Them and Be Excellent

Overcoming LImitations

I have a friend, Merry Lynn, who is a dance professor. She is a beautiful dancer and an extremely talented dance educator and researcher. She also is the inventor of a fascinating device called the Rolling Dance Chair. Her project has an incredible personal back story that came from tragedy in her family when she was a young girl. However, I want to focus here on how Merry Lynn’s passion for overcoming limitations can help you overcome limitations, too.

A Dancer’s Anatomy Signature

The Reason You Are You!

Anatomy Signature graphic

Anatomy Signature™ is the term I coined several years ago to describe the unique design of one’s body. I wanted to help dancers I worked with be more satisfied with themselves. Basically, your Anatomy Signature™ makes you you! You are specially designed and valuable because of it.

Not all dancers have an Anatomy Signature™ that is ideal to be a prima ballerina or principal dancer…in fact, very few do. However, that should not keep them from enjoying dancing and trying to advance through the dance world as far as they can without physically or emotionally destroying themselves. I discuss this concept a lot in my performing arts health and kinesiology classes; the evidence that it resonates with students shows in both their faces and comments…

Keep Your Performing Bones Healthy

It's Not Just Your Grandmother's Problem!

standing foot xray bone health

Bone health is incredibly important for everyone. But, this is especially true for performing and production artists. Poor bone structure can lead to stress fractures, osteoporosis, and other bone conditions. These are not just problems for your grandmother! Almost everyone can be at risk for poor bone health.

Several factors put performers generally at higher risk of skeletal problems, and dancers most of all. The high percentage of females in dance and their frequent focus on body image brings other challenges. These include the related issues of low energy availability from a restricted diet, low body weight, and menstrual irregularities, all of which are inter-related and contribute to lowered bone density…

Dancer Wellness (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers, 2017)

I have the privilege of being an author of chapter 9 in this textbook for dancers and dance teachers. This is an excellent resource, and all royalties from the book go to support the work of the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science. I highly recommend it!

dancer-wellness-cover

From the publisher:

Dancers who want to get the most out of their experience in dance—whether in college, high school, a dance studio, or a dance company—can now take charge of their wellness. Dancer Wellness will help them learn and apply important wellness concepts as presented through the in-depth research conducted by the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS) and their experts from around the world.

Dancer Wellness covers four primary topics:

  • Foundations of dancer wellness, which explores the dancer’s physical environment, the science behind training, and conditioning
  • Mental components of dancer wellness, which investigates the psychological aspects that influence a dancer’s training—imagery, somatic practices, and the ways that rest, fatigue, and burnout affect learning, technique, and injury risk and recovery
  • Physical aspects of dancer wellness, which examines dancer nutrition and wellness, including the challenges in maintaining good nutrition, addressing body composition issues, bone health, injury prevention, and first aid
  • Assessments for dancer wellness, which offers guidance in goal setting, screenings, assessing abilities, and designing a personal wellness plan

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Ways to Effectively Teach Performing Artists

(Or Anyone, Really)

Hi, my name is Jeff Russell. I’m a healthcare professional to performing artists and a professor. One of the most incredible blessings of my life is to teach young people and watch their eyes light up when they “get it.” Many of those I teach are performing artists learning about anatomy, fitness, nutrition, injuries, and other performing arts health topics. But, every time I am with performers I realize that they generally don’t possess a lot of good health information.

The problem isn’t access…we have way more information in our world than we know what to do with. So, the problem must be getting the correct information to these artists, delivered by someone who actually cares about them and will invest in them. Ah yes…that’s why I developed Artisanus