Cirque du Soleil Considers Injury Prevention Program

A new study reveals that performers in Cirque du Soleil shows – known for acrobatic performances that blend theater and circus acts – exhibit the same patterns of injuries found in elite athletes. The study is the first step in developing an injury prevention program to document the frequency and types of injuries that occur among artists in performance companies.

Researchers accessed the Cirque du Soleil injury database and studied 18,000 injuries that occurred from 2002 to 2006. They found that lower extremity injuries of the knee and ankle were most common. The majority of injuries – 45 percent – were to muscles and tendons. Shoulder injuries represented half of all injuries to the upper extremity, while fractures, head injuries and concussions were rare (less than 5 percent combined).

Overall, there was no difference in the anatomical location or types of injuries suffered by males and females, and the pattern of injuries has remained consistent from year to year.

According to Cirque du Soleil, they plan to use the injury surveillance data to establish potential injury trends, develop and implement strategies in order to minimize injury rates and further protect the artists’ physical integrity and optimize their performance longevity.

“The common types of injuries you see in trained elite athletes are not unlike what the Cirque du Soleil artists are experiencing when they get injured. There are acute injuries such as sprains and strains, and overuse injuries such as tendonopathies,” said Ian Shrier, M.D., Ph.D. “After they rehab, just like other athletes, they have the opportunity to return to performance.”

Researchers released their findings of this 5-year study May 28 at the 55th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

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