Ballet and Sports Medicine
Led by McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Freddie Fu, MD, today the UPMC Sports Medicine’s staff of experts is skilled in the assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of dance-related injuries and dance-specific training programs. As reported by Jane Vranish of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dr. Fu has been attending to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers since 1983 when he quickly embraced the connection and singular importance of dance. Dr. Fu has been attending to the dancers ever since, physically, mentally, and emotionally. He realized that it was an art form that didn’t have the financial wherewithal to care for artists who often just had to dance “hurt,” grinning and bearing it for the audience, or simply quit.
“It’s artistic, it’s athletic, and I really enjoy the performances,” Dr. Fu says. “Dancers are so proficient — you need to be aware of your surroundings.”
Today, the Pittsburgh Ballet dancers and the health staff explore the delicate balance between art and the singular physicality inherent in ballet: coordination, balance, and technical hurdles among them. From backstage at Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center, therapists watch from the wings, trying to become more familiar with ballet technique. It’s here that they occasionally offer suggestions on injury prevention.
UPMC Sports Medicine physical therapists and athletic trainers are members of the Performing Arts Special Interest Group of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA). They are also active and contributing members of the Dance/USA medical taskforce committee.
UPMC Sports Medicine experts help improve and prolong a dancer’s career through a dance-specific assessment, focused on flexibility, strength, balance, core stabilization, and functional movement. UPMC’s dance experts develop dance-specific functional training programs that will enable dancers to return from injury to a high level of performance, in a meaningful and safe progression.
Dr. Fu is the David Silver professor of orthopaedic surgery and chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Fu has also been the head team physician for the University of Pittsburgh Department of Athletics since 1986 and holds secondary appointments at the University as professor of physical therapy and health physical and recreational education.
Illustration: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.