Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)

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18.3: Dance Medicine: Strategies for the Prevention and Care of Injuries to Dancers

Course Description

This monograph series will provide a comprehensive overview for evaluation, treatment, and intervention strategies needed to successfully treat the dancer. The reader is introduced to the epidemiology of dance injury and preventative strategies dealing with the occupational demands of dance. There is also a separate monograph discussing the nutritional needs of the dancer. Specific attention is given to common lower extremity injuries of the hip, knee, and ankle foot complex. A concluding monograph details expectations and practice issues facing the physical therapist working in the field of dance medicine.


Upon completion of this course the participant will be able to do the following:

  1. Identify biopsychosocial factors influencing injury occurrence among dancers.
  2. Recognize the role of the screening process for dancers and how to utilize screening as a tool within the broader model of prevention and intervention.
  3. Access formulas to estimate energy and hydration needs in healthy and injured dancers.
  4. Recognize serious eating pathology.
  5. Be able to recognize key components needed for reasonable weight loss regimens.
  6. Educate dance clients on the role of appropriate supplement use.
  7. Recommend eating plans for pre-exercise meals and during exercise.
  8. Describe anatomic and biomechanical requirements pertinent to the dancer’s hip.
  9. Identify specific questions relevant to the dancer during the history portion of the examination.
  10. Perform a thorough hip evaluation and assess functional deficits in dancers.
  11. Describe and assess common dance injuries and design specific treatment strategies.
  12. Understand how the psychosocial aspects influence movement strategies and injury potential in the dancer.
  13. Modify short-term and long-term physical therapy goals to facilitate patient compliance.
  14. Understand basic biomechanics of knee function in dance.
  15. Name the 5 most common knee injuries in dance and describe factors associated with their onset.
  16. Recognize the evaluation skills needed to effectively treat and prevent knee injuries in dance.
  17. Understand and appreciate the unique physical characteristics of the dancer’s foot and ankle and the demands placed on them.
  18. Design a dancer-specific foot and ankle rehabilitation program.
  19. Differentiate among conditions that affect the course of physical therapy treatment and prognosis, or require referral for further medical evaluation.
  20. Develop a preseason screening exam for dancers.
  21. Identify the unique knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for effective physical therapy practice in dance medicine.
  22. Identify specific training opportunities for dance medicine physical therapists.
  23. Understand the relationship between physical therapy management of dance injuries, the structure and culture of dance organizations, and issues of worker’s compensation.
  24. Identify and provide a treatment plan for a typical emergency situation that arises in the management of dancers.
  25. Identify and understand common licensure challenges that can be encountered when traveling and treating the dance population.

Topics and Authors

  • Epidemiology of Dance Injuries: Biopsychosocial Considerations in the Management of Dancer Health - Marijeanne Liederbach, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
  • Nutrition, Hydration, Metabolism, and Thinness - Beth Glace, MS
  • The Dancer’s Hip: Anatomic, Biomechanical, and Rehabilitation Considerations - Gayanne Grossman, PT, EdM
  • Common Knee Injuries in Dance - Marijeanne Liederbach, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
  • Foot and Ankle Injuries in the Dancer: Examination and Treatment Strategies - Marika Molnar, PT, LAc; Rocky Bornstein, PT; Marika Hartog, MPT; Liz Henry, PT, OCS; Michelle Rodriguez, MPT, CMPT; Jo Smith, PT, MManTh; and Andrea Zujko, PT, DPT
  • Developing Expert Physical Therapy Practice in Dance Medicine - Jennifer M. Gamboa, DPT, OCS; Shaw Bronner, PT, PhD, OCS; and Tara Jo Manal, DPT, OCS, SCS

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