Musculoskeletal injury in an Australian professional ballet company, 2018-2021: 953 medical-attention and 706 time-loss injuries over 4 years

Louise Drysdale, Zara Gomes, Liam A Toohey, Kate Pumpa, Phil Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To describe the incidence rate, frequency, severity, recurrence, and burden of musculoskeletal injury in professional ballet. STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive epidemiological (retrospective). METHODS: Professional dancers (n = 73, 40 females, 33 males) provided consent for retrospective review of musculoskeletal injury data. Medical-attention injuries were reported to and recorded by onsite physiotherapists between January 2018 and December 2021. Time-loss injuries were any injury that prevented a dancer from taking a full part in all dance-related activities for >1 day. Injuries were classified using the OSICS-10.1 system. Injury incidence rates (IIRs; injuries/1000 h), severity, recurrence, and burden were calculated. RESULTS: Nine hundred and fifty-three medical-attention injuries were recorded in 72 (98%) dancers at an IIR of 2.79/1000 h (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.62-2.98). 706 were time-loss injuries, which were reported in 70 dancers at an IIR of 2.07/1000 h (95% CI: 1.92, 2.23). Overuse injuries represented 53% of medical-attention injuries. The most frequently injured body area and tissue/pathology were thoracic facet joint (n = 63/953, 7%) and ankle synovitis/impingement (n = 62/953, 6%). Bone stress injuries (BSIs) were the most severe with the highest median time loss (135 days, interquartile range [IQR] 181) followed by fractures (72.5 days, IQR 132). The injuries with the highest burden were tibial BSIs (13 days lost/1000 h; 95% CI: 13, 14). Jumping and lifting were the most frequently reported injury mechanisms. CONCLUSION: Almost all dancers required medical attention for at least one injury during the surveillance period. Approximately 74% of injuries resulted in time loss. BSIs and ankle synovitis/impingement were of high burden, and a high proportion of BSIs were recurrent. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2023;53(11):712-722. Epub 14 September 2023. doi:10.2519/jospt.2023.11858.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)712-722
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2023


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