Performing Arts Medicine

Due to the nature of their profession, performers can be faced with unique medical and psychological conditions. Performers are under a high level of stress, facing constant expectation of excellence and perfection. The work hours are long and can be physically taxing; from thousands of hours of playing a musical instrument to extreme use of joint flexibility.

Performing arts medicine uses an interdisciplinary approach to help actors, dancers, singers, musicians and other performers recover from or prevent illness or injury. A performer might see a physical, occupational, or speech therapist, a physician specialist or a psychologist depending on his or her needs. It is crucial the healthcare provider have an in-depth knowledge of the performer’s techniques to treat the root cause, not only the surface symptoms.

He or she might see a combination of providers for relief from his or her condition. Physical therapist can help restore function, improve muscle strength, balance and endurance. Occupational therapy is common for instrumentalists because the specialty is focused on the hands and upper extremity function. A speech therapist can help singers with endurance, vocal quality and conservation—on and off the stage. The help of a therapist or other provider can prevent injury and even enhance performance.