August 2020

Dance-related Injuries on the Rise

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Dancing can be a beautiful work of art, a great form of exercise, or a fun leisure activity. But increasingly, it is also the cause of injuries requiring an emergency room visit. Such visits rose by 22.5% from 2014 to 2018, according to new research presented at the 2020 NATA Virtual Clinical Symposia & AT Expo held July 2020.

Nearly half of the patients reported to the emergency department with a sprain or strain, said said Joshua Honrado, MS, ATC, CSCS, athletic trainer at Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Health, New York, NY, and Doctor of Athletic Training student at A.T. Still University. Most injuries occurred in females (83.3%) who were 10 – 18 years old (76.2%). The findings were presented in Epidemiology of Dance Related Injuries Presenting to Emergency Departments in the U.S., 2014-2018.

“Before the pandemic hit, we saw a disturbing trend that the frequency of dance injuries requiring medical attention was increasing,” said Honrado. “The use of in-house medical professionals, such as athletic trainers, in performing arts studios and organizations are likely to positively impact the need to visit the emergency room, which can be costly to the family and can slow down urgent response to other critical care in the emergency room.” The latter point taking on great salience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between the years 2014-2018, 4,152 patients reported to emergency departments with a dance injury. The injuries occurred most commonly at the knee (22.5%), ankle (15.7%), and foot (10.2%), and were diagnosed as sprain/strain (42.6%), fracture (10.3%), or contusion (8.1%). The most common injuries were ankle sprain/strain (12.7%), knee sprain/strain (10.4%), and knee dislocation (4.3%). Almost all patients were treated and released (97.1%), and a small percentage were admitted to the hospital (1.6%) or left the ED before being seen by a healthcare provider (1.0%). Incidence rates were over four times higher for females than males and highest in the 10-18 years age group.

Other research has shown that dancing injuries can include blisters, bruising, and ingrown toenails from ill-fitting shoes.

The data, which came from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), consisted of de-identified, publicly available, nationally representative patient data collected from a probability sample of 100 emergency departments located across the U.S. Only injuries that occurred during a structured event such as a dance class or dance competition, were included. Injuries occurring during unstructured events such as dancing at a wedding, were excluded.

The study abstract will be published in the Journal of Athletic Training, the scientific journal of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, later this year.

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