Researchers develop sensory system monitors how dancers feel as they dance

May 31, 2022  14:40

A new wearable sensor system developed by Curtin University tracks dancers' movements, providing valuable insight into how they adapt to dance through pain.

In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers analyzed the movements of 52 pre-professional ballet and contemporary dance students from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

Lead researcher, graduate student and former professional ballerina Danica Hendry of the Curtin School of Auxiliary Health, said that while almost all of the dancers experienced pain, only half of them had to stop or change their movements.

Fifty out of 52 dancers said they were in pain, and 26 reported that this pain affected their training/performance. Our results show that dancers are often able to continue dancing when they are in pain and do so by adapting their movements, such as reducing the load, Hendry said.

Despite the high prevalence of musculoskeletal pain, pain and disability levels were generally low among dancers, with lower back and ankle/foot pain being the most common.

At the same time, the specialist noted that existing measures, such as diaries and activity charts, do not reflect the specific movements that dancers perform.

The application of wearable sensor technology in the future will enable clinicians to better understand the relationship between pain, disability and movement among athletes.

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