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Research & Innovation | Overview

Our researchers are leading the way in examining the health impacts of practicing a performing art and how to prevent injuries.

Long-term health outcomes for dancers

While much research has been done on dance and injuries, little research exists on the benefits of dance, such as strength, discipline, and academic achievement. Partnering with the Boston Ballet, we are investigating quality of life and health outcomes of young dancers in the company.

Our researchers also specialize in the impact of dance on young athletes, particularly during puberty, when athletes’ bodies are changing, and the demands of their sport typically increase. In particular, our studies have shown that having a physical therapist as part of the health care team can reduce the number and severity of dancers’ injuries.

Preventing injuries among figure skaters

As the sport of figure skating has become more demanding, stress fractures and other overuse injuries have increased. Our researchers investigated the number and types of injuries among figure skaters and have recommended ways to reduce the risk of injury while still training and performing at a high level.

Female athlete triad

Though long considered taboo, the role of hormones on female athletes’ energy level, bone health, risk of fracture, and performance has become more accepted as more girls and women participate in sports at the highest levels. Today, the female athlete triad and relative energy deficiency has have gained widespread recognition among many sports medicine clinicians. Our researchers are at the forefront of research into the menstrual cycle and its effect on energy availability in athletes and its impact on performance, menstrual health, and bone strength.

The pros and cons of sports specialization

As kids compete in sports like gymnastics at higher levels and an earlier age, parents and clinicians grapple with questions like, at what age should my child begin to focus on a single sport? Will doing so lead to more skillful play? Will early sports specialization put my child be at risk of overuse injuries or burn out? Researchers in our Sports Medicine Division are examining these questions in order to refine guidelines for parents and coaches.