Two programs in the Health and Kinesiology Department (HLKN) within the College of Education and Human Development, have collaborated to expand student learning. The Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) program performed wellness screenings on undergraduate dance science students on September 18th. This is the sixth year that the screenings have been performed, giving dancers an opportunity to get individualized attention to increase athletic performance.
“Things have gone pretty smoothly,” said Boucher. “Our athletic training students looked at the dancers from head to toe — looking at range of motion, strength, laxity, and other things that dancers are prone to.”
This year, 58 dancers participated in the screenings beginning with a muscular and skeletal evaluation at Heldenfels Hall, followed by a dance functional assessment at the PEAP building led by dance director Christine Bergeron. Dr. Tony Boucher, clinical associate professor in the MSAT program said that the collaboration has opened up many resources to both programs.
“Because the dance program is an academic program, it doesn’t have any sports medicine providers looking at the dancers who are basically doing athletic stuff for four years in a row,” Dr. Boucher said. “So it’s a win-win that these dancers can be evaluated and that our athletic training students are able to work with athletes that they normally wouldn’t see,” Dr. Boucher said.
In order to effectively evaluate performance, the athletic training students were instructed to collect data, which is added to a national dancer wellness database. This data not only provides information on deficiencies of individual dancers that may influence injury, but it also is utilized to create customized preventative maintenance programs.
“One of the things that happens to dancers is that certain muscles and joints will be working harder than others. After dancing for so long, their bodies have more than likely accommodated to this,” Dr. Boucher said. “Through the data, we are trying to establish a baseline range of motion, strength, and other physiological measures of dancers that are different than the normal population.”
Orthopedic Injury Clinics
Orthopedic injury clinics are also being offered to dancers. The additional screenings take place only six times per year and deal with more specific injuries and assist in injury prevention. The athletic training students then summarize the evaluations and make suggestions as to whether professional medical help is needed or an immediate treatment recommendation.
“Since we cannot give a definitive medical diagnosis, the goal is to give them a quick synopsis and let them know if they need to see a doctor or implement treatment recommendations to reduce or maintain the injury while they participate in dance,” said. Dr. Boucher.
Many dancers use their own data from the screenings to set goals and better their performance.
“The tests are really interesting and are good feedback for us,” said Danielle Dooley, dance science student. “We take the results of these screenings and incorporate it into our technique class. Some of the tests can be used to help us out later in life.”