David Popoli, MD
So at Performing Arts Medicine, the idea here is that we are trying to serve a unique patient population. Dancers are, of course, there's similarities to other athlete groups. They have a very demanding schedule, they put very significant demands on their bodies, but they also are different in that the biomechanics, how they move their bodies, is different than other athlete groups. How they think about their sport is a little bit different too. I think a lot of athletes make big investments in their sport, but for a lot of performing artists, this isn't only their sport, it's also kind of a huge portion of who they are. It's their creative outlet, it's potentially going to be their career, and so the demands on them are a little bit different. And so we just want to make sure that we're also serving this athlete group's demands. For a dancer, I want to make sure that I'm understanding his or her vocabulary.
What does it mean when they say plié? What's a Demi Pointe? What is a Rond de jambe? I want to make sure I understand those terms. And so that's the purpose of getting this clinic set up, is not only can we serve the dancer for their specific needs, but we can also then tailor the way that we do our physical therapy, which is also going to be a little bit different. We can offer things like pointe shoe assessments to make sure that we're taking care of their equipment, and then as we rehab them, we want to make sure it's safe and that we're also enhancing their performance. And this is the reason we have things like a dance floor here in the physical therapy studio, so to speak, to make sure that as they're recovering from injury, they're doing it in a way that's safe. In terms of what should cue them in that they should maybe seek care, number one, if they have pain that's just accelerating as they continue to participate, that is a problem.
A little bit of discomfort I'm kind of okay with, but if they have escalating levels of pain during participation, that is concerning. If they notice the quality of their performance is declining as a result of an injury or as a result of pain, that is concerning. Or if they're being told that, say by a dance instructor, that they're changing how they dance, so they're trying to dance around an injury and they may be using slightly different mechanics, that is concerning as well, because they may turn one injury into three injuries because they're using their body a different way. We have several providers that are familiar with dancers, or familiar with vocalists, or familiar with musicians. We have a physical therapy team that's, again, multiple providers, sort of one lead person, but several providers that feel comfortable seeing this group. And then I received a certified pointe shoe fitting qualification.
So although I don't plan on changing careers to just fit shoes for a living, I certainly feel comfortable doing the equipment assessment. And then I have a person that I collaborate with actually, who is the official fitter for the San Francisco Ballet, who offers discounts through virtual assessments, et cetera, with some of the people that I see here. From the front end, the diagnosis of their injury, all the way through, including treatment, recovery, injury prevention, performance enhancement, they're going to be covered the whole way. They don't need to go shopping for different providers, they can get it all in one space.