News: The National Institute of Dance Medicine & Science

Wednesday 2 May 2012 by Carmel Smith

The opening of the first NHS clinic for the treatment of dance injuries, part of the new National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS), was announced this week by Dance UK. The specialist clinic is at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) with a multidisciplinary team led by Dr Roger Wolman, (Consultant in rheumatology and sport and exercise medicine).

This is the first step in establishing a network of hub clinics across the country, but in the meantime, any dancer – whatever the dance form they practise – can now be referred by their GP to the London clinic.

The National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science has come about through a unique partnership between six major dance organisations, universities and a hospital including Dance UK, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Jerwood Centre for the Treatment and Prevention of Dance Injuries, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, University of Wolverhampton, University of Birmingham and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. Together, these institutions employ world leading experts in dance medicine and science, research, education and treatment, many of whom were at the Royal Society of Medicine on Monday night for the launch announcement.

Dance UK estimates that around 80% of dancers suffer injuries which stop them from working each year, at a substantial cost to themselves and the industry. One of the core aims of the new institute will be to promote good practise and prevent injuries, but where they do occur, to offer swift diagnosis, which is often difficult to find and affordable specialist treatment.

The first dancer to be treated at the new clinic Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital was at the launch, along with the consultant who treated him, Dr Roger Wolman, Consultant in rheumatology and sport and exercise medicine. Andre Oporia is a dancer with ZooNation Dance Company. Last year he suffered an ankle injury whilst rehearsing for the company’s new show – Some Like It Hip Hop. He tried to dance through the injury –as many dancers feel compelled to do – but eventually had to leave the stage mid performance. Doctors at an A&E department told him the only course of action was rest – and a private consultant offered a scan and a six week wait for an appointment. At that point Dance UK told ZooNation about the new clinic and Andre was seen within days, had keyhole surgery and less than six months later is able to dance again.

Kate Prince, Artistic Director of ZooNation said: “NIDMS is absolutely crucial for the future of the dance industry. Dancers are athletes and their bodies need free or affordable specialist care to help them through their careers and specifically in case of injury, they need quick access to expert diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. I wish this facility had been open in 2008 when I broke my foot at the Beijing Olympic Handover.”

Caroline Miller, Director of Dance UK stressed that the creation of NIDMS couldn’t have happened without major donations – in particular £80,000 from the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and £30,000 from the dance floor manufactuers British Harlequin. The Society of London Theatres, the Theatrical Management Association and Trinity College London are all supporters, with many donations from individuals who are part the dance industry.

An important part of NIDMS will be research into the multidimensional cause of injury and development of strategies for prevention as well as treatment. This research element of NIDMS will be led by the dance science departments at Trinity Laban and University of Wolverhampton, and the psychology department at University of Birmingham, working with the teams at RNOH and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Jerwood Centre for the Treatment and Prevention of Dance Injuries.

For any dancer who has suffered an injury and would like to be referred to NIDMS, the Dance UK website has a step by step guide
Dancers can also access specialist private treatment through the dance medicine and science services at Trinity Laban and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Jerwood Centre.

The launch of NDIMS came at the end of a symposium on Nutrition & Disordered Eating in Dance, also organised by Dance UK Full report

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