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A new addition to IU Health’s rehabilitation services provides injury-prevention screening, and physical therapy for dancers, skaters, gymnasts and other performing artists and athletes.
By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, Tfender1@iuhealth.org
From the time they were in diapers, they were dancing. That’s how Korrie Hall describes the passion of her three daughters.
When injuries sidelined that passion, Hall turned to IU Health’s Performing Arts Rehabilitation Program. Located at 7411 N. Keystone Ave. the office opened up the first of this year and specializes in the care of performance injuries.
Hall is the mother to Zoe York, 18, Lucy York, 17, and Ava York, 14. All three dance with Avon Schools. The older two also perform with Tenacity Dance focusing on hip-hop, jazz and lyrical movement. Last year, Zoe York received rehabilitation services from IU Health physical therapists after surgery for a torn labrum in her hip.
“She is a senior in high school and came back better than ever. I give all the credit to her perseverance and the knowledge of her physical therapist,” said Hall. Therapists in the Performing Arts Rehabilitation Program aren’t just specially trained in the specific needs of their patients; many have also pursued those artistic passions.
Ava is working with physical therapist Victoria Hyatt who has been with IU Health since 2006. Like Ava, she began dancing at an early age and pursued her passion at the Washington School of Ballet. She went on to receive a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the University of Massachusetts. It was a kinesiology course that caught her interest in physical therapy.
“I was fascinated by it and thought physical therapy would be a great place to take my knowledge of movement and now it’s amazing to have it come full circle and be working with dancers,” said Hyatt. In addition to Hyatt, former dancer Carrie Gaerte also provides physical therapy to performers.
At IU Health Saxony physical therapist Whitney Harrison works with gymnasts, and at IU Health Methodist Medical Plaza physical therapist Maren Dixon also works with dancers and gymnasts.
The newest IU Health performance facility on Keystone Avenue includes an on-site dance studio with sprung floor, a barre, and mirrors. Pilates is also incorporated into the rehabilitation.
“We’re basically recreating the environment a dancer would practice in so we can work on turns, jumps and leaps and all the things dancers need to get back to their craft,” said Hyatt.
On a recent Thursday afternoon Hall’s youngest daughter steadied her frame on a pair of crutches as she arrived for therapy. In January Ava York underwent knee surgery resulting from Osteochondritis dissecans. The joint condition causes cartilage to die due to lack of adequate blood flow.
“The first week she came in for therapy in February she was still wearing a brace and was jumping off the table in pain,” said Hall. On her recent visit, Ava worked with Hyatt on building strength, balance and range of motion. Her original recovery schedule was 16 weeks. Hall said her daughter is as determined and discipline with therapy as she is with her dance.
“My girls all breathe dance. That’s their self care,” said Hall. “There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that goes into dance. Some people don’t see it as a sport so there aren’t trainers at the events like there are for other athletics. It’s every bit as athletic and these kids want to heal from injuries like every other athlete,” she said.
The Performing Arts Rehabilitation Program provides services to several local dance companies including Butler University Ballet and Dance Kaleidoscope offering screening and recovery of injuries. With experience in performance, the therapists understand the terms, conditions and movements specific to their patients, said Hall.
As she positioned herself flat on the table, Ava focused on bending her knee. Unlike other visits, she didn’t grimace in pain. She was also able to bear weight on her leg.
“I’m definitely getting better and I want to dance again as soon as possible,” said Ava.