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Dancer's Clinic Keeps Dancers Dancing

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Dancer's Clinic Keeps Dancers Dancing

Nov 24, 2017

University of Utah Health provides a Dance Clinic in its Orthopedic Center that serves all dancers—from the young to the old, and from experienced to those who are just beginning. Dancing can be a physically intensive activity and injuries are common. Physical therapist Trina Bellendir talks about how the Dance Clinic helps dancers treat injuries and how to prevent dance-related injuries in the first place.

Episode Transcript

Interviewer: Learn more about the dance clinic and how it can help you if you're a young dancer, or a dancer that's been doing it for a while. We'll talk about that next on The Scope.

Announcer: Health tips, medical news, research and more for a happier, healthier life. From University of Utah Health Sciences, this is The Scope.

Interviewer: Trina Bellendir is a physical therapist in the dance clinic at University of Utah Orthopedic Center, and today we're going to learn more about the clinic. It's a resource for you as a dancer that hopefully you'll use before to prevent injuries, and if you do have an injury, it's also a place you can go to have that taken care of. So first of all, who is the dance clinic for? Is it just for amateur, professionals, both?

Trina: It is actually for both. Anyone that has an injury or would like to prevent an injury, or they know that there's some dysfunction, or their dance instructor has told them, "You need to work on this," that's what I'm there for.

Interviewer: Okay. So that's a good trigger word, right? If your instructor says, "This is something you need to work on," and you're not able to do it, that would be something you can help them with. Tell me about a typical visit. Who is that person?

Trina: I've had a few that came in with, "You need to work on your arch supports and lifting up your arch," and them not knowing how to attain that arch. So my job is to teach them which muscles to use, how to show them their points on their feet to get those activated.

Interviewer: Got you. Can you give us some other examples?

Trina: Knees over the second toe. Dancers tend to let their knees fall in, so we'd like to have them knees always in line with their second toe to help prevent some of the chondromalacia patella and knee dysfunctions.

Interviewer: And a lot of those dysfunctions, is this true or false, are caused by some sort of a muscle strength imbalance or a flexibility imbalance that you can help with?

Trina: It is. Most of them are muscle imbalances and we just need to do some minor exercises to help them rearrange those.

Interviewer: Got you. So it's for professional dancers as well as amateurs, young and old?

Trina: Young and old. I've seen them up to 50 or 60 and as young as 8.

Interviewer: Got you. And your typical patient, I would imagine, is somebody that comes in that has hurt themselves at some point, and maybe has ignored it for a while because they're hoping it would get better. You would hope to have fewer of those and more people that are coming in more proactively. Talk me through how somebody might know that they should actually come and visit the clinic.

Trina: Any time you start getting just the basic strains, pains type of thing that doesn't go away after you've iced it and rested it for a day or two, those are the type of people I'd like to see in there, preferably before they are unable to dance and the show is tomorrow.

Interviewer: And then for those that come that actually have some sort of a chronic issue, how do you normally work them through that?

Trina: Well, I treat the chronic issue first mainly by treating, getting their symptoms under control. Then we'll look back and see what caused the issue. Not just the ankle, but does it even arrive at the hip or at the back. We need to make sure the entire body is working well together and those muscle balances are correct.

Interviewer: Do you have any sort of technology or tools that helps you analyze dancers? I've been to a runner's clinic before, and I loved the fact that they filmed me. I learned so much from that.

Trina: So I am in a fairly unique position working at the university, that we have a motion capture system that we have in the clinic. We have a force plate that is actually brand new that we can test their ground reaction forces with. We have isokinetic machines for strengthening and testing, as well as what's called a foot mat. It does the pressure sensitive areas of your foot so they know where they're putting the pressure.

Interviewer: So a lot of kind of cool tools.

Trina: We have lots of fun toys over there, yes.

Interviewer: Yeah, to really help somebody through whatever particular issue they might be facing. So if somebody comes in for a visit and they're in the situation, either I guess. Let's talk through both of these. They're looking to do something that they're not able to at this point, or they have hurt themselves and they're looking to rehabilitate. How often does somebody usually have to come back before they start noticing some results?

Trina: I like to see results after the first visit.

Interviewer: Really?

Trina: That doesn't mean that I've got them completely better, but I want to make some changes day one. So maybe not better, but at least a change, so that way we know we're heading in the right direction.

Interviewer: I see. And does insurance cover this?

Trina: Insurance covers most of it. If we take your insurance at the University Orthopedic Center, then your insurance will cover the dance clinic as well.

Interviewer: So really, I mean, it's just great insurance against hurting yourself or being able to enjoy this thing that you enjoy for a long time.

Trina: It is. It's basically your co-pay versus a new pair of dance shoes, which can run anywhere from $50 to $150, $200. So your co-pays $25, $50 even, and it's worth it. I just would prefer to have people come to me early and have me say, "Well, it's just a little strain." I'd rather have that, give you a couple of exercises, treat some of the mechanics that you're doing early, versus waiting until it's a chronic issue and then it's going to take months to get better.

Interviewer: It's a lot easier to untangle that early on, so.

Trina: It is, and I try not to take you out of dance, because telling a dancer they can't dance is awful. So we try to keep you in your sport as long as you can, unless it's too bad.

Interviewer: So really, pay attention to what your body is telling you, and it's a great resource you can take advantage of that is fairly reasonably priced if you have insurance through the U.

Trina: Absolutely.

Interviewer: What about somebody that doesn't have insurance through the U?

Trina: People that don't have insurance through the U, we do take cash pay. We try to be kind with that, and if you pay upfront, it's a 30% discount.

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