Injury Epidemiology in Professional Ballet: A Five-Season Prospective Study of 1596 Medical Attention Injuries and 543 Time-Loss Injuries

Adam Mattiussi, Joseph Shaw, Sean Williams, Phil Price, Derrick Brown, Daniel Cohen, Richard Clark, Shane Kelly, Greg Ritter, Charles Pedlar, Jamie Tallent

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Objectives To describe the incidence rate, severity, burden and aetiology of medical attention and time-loss injuries across five consecutive seasons at a professional ballet company.

Methods Medical attention injuries, time-loss injuries and dance exposure hours of 123 professional ballet dancers (women: n=66, age: 28.0±8.3 years; men: n=57, age: 27.9±8.5 years) were prospectively recorded between the 2015/2016 and 2019/2020 seasons.

Results The incidence rate (per 1000 hours) of medical attention injury was 3.9 (95% CI 3.3 to 4.4) for women and 3.1 (95% CI 2.6 to 3.5) for men. The incidence rate (per 1000 hours) of time-loss injury was 1.2 (95% CI 1.0 to 1.5) for women and 1.1 (95% CI 0.9 to 1.3) for men. First Soloists and Principals experienced between 2.0–2.2 additional medical attention injuries per 1000 hours and 0.9–1.1 additional time-loss injuries per 1000 hours compared with Apprentices (p≤0.025). Further, intraseason differences were observed in medical attention, but not time-loss, injury incidence rates with the highest incidence rates in early (August and September) and late (June) season months. Thirty-five per cent of time-loss injuries resulted in over 28 days of modified dance training. A greater percentage of time-loss injuries were classified as overuse (women: 50%; men: 51%) compared with traumatic (women: 40%; men: 41%).

Conclusion This is the first study to report the incidence rate of medical attention and time-loss injuries in professional ballet dancers. Incidence rates differed across company ranks and months, which may inform targeted injury prevention strategies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Early online date9 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Apr 2021

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