The Performing Arts Clinic at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth is conducting an investigation into the health risks associated with the dedication and sacrifices required to become a professional ballet dancer. According to Dr. Iain Lee, Director of the Performing Arts Medicine Fellowship at UNT Health Science Center, these health risks are particularly concerning when it comes to bone health.

Dr. Steven Fung, a former competitive dancer and performing arts medicine fellow, noticed that stress-related injuries and fractures were common among dancers. He discovered that female dancers were particularly vulnerable due to their desire to maintain a certain aesthetic that often includes body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Bethany Bailey, a dancer and dance instructor at TCU, has observed that while not every dancer struggles with an eating disorder, the prevalence of such problems has led many dance departments to focus on promoting a healthy mindset.

The clinic’s research goals include developing a self-assessment checklist for ballet dancers to identify their risk factors and stay healthy while pursuing their passion. This tool could also be useful for other female athletes looking to prevent injuries and improve overall health. Dr. Lee emphasized the importance of supporting dancers in preserving their health and establishing a culture of health and well-being in the dance community.

In conclusion, ballet requires immense dedication and sometimes sacrifice to reach a professional level. While these sacrifices can lead to physical challenges such as bone health issues, they can also contribute to mental health concerns like body dysmorphia and eating disorders among female dancers. The UNT Health Science Center’s Performing Arts Clinic aims to address these challenges by developing tools that help dancers maintain their health while pursuing their passion for this art form.

By Samantha Johnson

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