Researchers in Fort Worth Investigate Health of Female Ballet Dancers – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Researchers in Fort Worth Investigate Health of Female Ballet Dancers – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Ballet is a performance art that requires dedication and sometimes sacrifice to reach the professional level. Researchers at the Performing Arts Medicine Clinic at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth are studying the impact that these sacrifices can have on the health of dancers, particularly their bone health. Dr. Yein Lee, the director of the UNT Health Science Center Performing Arts Medicine Fellowship, has noted a high prevalence of stress injuries and fractures in dancers that they have treated.

Dr. Stephen Fung, a Performing Arts Medicine Fellow and former competitive dancer, noticed this trend during his fellowship and decided to launch a study to identify risk factors and solutions. He emphasized the importance of focusing on women due to biological differences between men and women. Female ballet dancers are traditionally required to be strong but not too muscular, which can lead to body image issues, eating disorders, and calorie restrictions, especially at the pre-professional stage.

Bethany Bailey, a dance student and teacher at TCU, has been involved in ballet since she was three years old. She highlighted the prevalence of eating disorders in the dance world and the efforts many departments are making to combat these issues. Lee mentioned a cultural shift within the dance community towards prioritizing health and wellness for dancers and providing support to ensure they can enjoy their passion in a healthy way.

One of the research goals is to develop a self-assessment checklist that female ballet dancers can use to evaluate their risk factors. This tool could also be beneficial for female athletes in general to maintain their health while pursuing their passions. The ultimate aim of this research is to keep dancers healthy, allowing them to continue doing what they love while promoting overall well-being.

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