Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Recognizes Unique Needs of Injured Artists

Originally published on the  Lehigh Valley Arts Council’s blog (September 10, 2015).

dancer in rehab

Margo Ging assists a dancer in rehabilitation at Good Shepherd.

A dancer warms up with barre exercises and observes her form in the floor to ceiling mirrors. Nearby in the soundproof music room, a musician strums his guitar. These two performers have more in common than just a passion for the arts. They are both benefiting from the specialized care that is available at Good Shepherd’s Performing Arts Rehabilitation Center (PARC).

PARC first opened February 25, 2013 at Good Shepard Physical Therapy–Bethlehem, located on Eaton Avenue. Good Shepherd provides general orthopedic physical therapy for adults and children; however, they have a special niche for performing artists. The reason for this is performers are prone to serious injuries due to overusing muscles and repetitive movements.

“Much like high level athletes, dancers need to rehabilitate their injuries in a manner that is specific to the demands they will be placing on their bodies,” says Cathie Dara, PT, DPT, OCS, STC, a physical therapist and the site manager for Good Shepherd Physical Therapy–Bethlehem/Performing Arts Rehabilitation Center. In order for patients to receive the best possible care, PARC utilizes therapists who specialize in performing arts therapy.

“When a person comes in, whether a dancer or musician, they don’t want to be told they have to stop dancing or performing,” says Margo Ging, physical therapist assistant at PARC. As a dance instructor, choreographer, and former professional dancer, Ging understands that performing artists don’t want to stop doing what they love. The artists will do whatever it takes to continue performing, taking classes, and going to rehearsals.

“We really zone in on what they want to get back to doing,” says Ging. She explains that even though patients may look medically okay on paper, they might not be once they begin performing again. One of Ging’s patients sprained her ankle numerous times, which most likely means there is a correction that needs to be made. Although it may seem like a minor error, correcting it will keep the injury from recurring. “I’ll take her into the dance studio to see her technique and what was causing her to keep injuring her ankle,” says Ging.

musician receives therapy

A musician works with a physical therapist to recover from an injury.

Additionally, therapists work around patients’ hectic schedules that are full of performances, recitals, and classes. Types of treatment at PARC include orthopedic and hand therapy, pain management, Kinesio Taping® and splinting, and headache therapy.

“What I enjoy most about being a physical therapist is seeing the quality of life for my patients improve throughout the course of their treatment and knowing that I had a positive impact on their life and their well-being,” says Dara, “It is truly challenging and professionally satisfying to be able to return a musician or a dancer to their livelihood or their passion.”

For more information, visit www.GoodShepherdRehab.org/performingarts or call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422).

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