Break a leg: performing arts medicine
Helen Barratt takes a look at this undervalued emerging specialty
Playing a musical instrument or treading the boards may not seem hazardous activities, but the range of health problems encountered by performers is surprisingly extensive. Currently, performing arts medicine is not a recognised specialty in the United Kingdom, and, despite the large volume of work, no specialist training is available from either the Royal Colleges or the medical schools. Despite the high profile of similar medical specialties--such as sports medicine--performing arts medicine is only just emerging.
Practitioners working in performing arts medicine deal with any injuries or illnesses stopping performers from reaching or maintaining their potential. Problems can be physical, psychological, or emotional and encompass everything from focal dystonia and voice problems to performance anxiety. The most common injuries are probably musculoskeletal. Performing arts medicine treats all disciplines--musicians, dancers, actors, singers, and comedians.
Performing arts medicine encompasses the expertise of a broad range of practitioners, both conventional and complementary, who