One Dance UK

Dancers' Health and Injury Research and Pilot Scheme

The Dancers’ Health Pilot Scheme is a prospective epidemiological research project that responds to the most pressing problem facing the dance industry today – keeping the workforce of dancers fit, healthy, injury free and performing at their best. It is the largest and most detailed research project of its kind and will impact the quality of dance training and prevention and care of dance (and sport and exercise) injuries, for those participating from grass roots to elite.

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Registered Charity in England and Wales (801552)

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  • Arts/Culture/HeritageArts/Culture/Heritage
  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment
  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing
  • Medical ResearchMedical Research
  • Sports/RecreationSports/Recreation

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80% of dancers report being injured each year, affecting their ability to perform and costing the UK dance profession an estimated £1million in lost working time, and a further £900,000 to treat the injuries. Standard NHS provisions do not allow dancers fast enough access to specialised medical practitioners, delaying their recovery by months, exacerbating problems and even costing them work and foreshortening careers (case studies available on request). We need to better understand the true causes of dance injuries and how they can be most effectively treated and prevented. The 2-year Dancers’ Health Pilot Scheme will give dancers taking part access to the full range of dance medicine and science services available at the project’s partner institutions (Olympic Medical Institute, Laban, the University of Wolverhampton and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Jerwood Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Dance Injuries) in order to study the effectiveness of specifically tailored injury prevention, treatment and supplementary training measures. The study will reveal the best ways to prevent injury and maintain the highest levels of performance. The findings will be used to plan future provision of comprehensive, cost effective healthcare and dance science support services for all dancers based on hard evidence. This research project is phase one of a long term vision to provide all top level dancers with access to high quality, comprehensive, dance specific healthcare and dance science support services on a par with those enjoyed by athletes and the dancers in the very largest ballet companies. It is envisaged that this can be achieved through a network of multidisciplinary hub-sites situated where there is substantial dance activity and therefore need. The pilot will explore the feasibility of dance and sport sharing facilities where appropriate in order to maximise medical and scientific resources, reduce costs, and benefit from the pooling of expertise. It will also give a clearer idea of the financial resources needed to realise the vision and how these might be managed. The long term vision is that these hub-sites will collectively form a ‘National Institute for Dance Health and Performance’ which will be a resource not only for elite dancers but for all those who are teaching, leading and participating in dance activity in all contexts, and treating dance, sport and exercise related injuries in the general public and at elite level. The £544k sought will pay for: two full time researchers; three dedicated medical practitioners based at the London and Birmingham sites; a state of the art internet-based injury tracking database that can be used by all dance companies and training institutions in the UK (a major legacy of the project); health, fitness and injury prevention screening/profiling and medical care of the dancers taking part in the project; worldwide dissemination of findings from the research.

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