Janine Stubbe, professor in Performing Arts Medicine, recently gave an interview about the Performing artists and Athlete Research Lab (PEARL) with Sport Knowhow XL. She discussed the mission and vision of PEARL with the largest information platform for the business sports market in the Netherlands.
New research lab reduces health problems in athletes and artists
Based on the Dutch article by: Thomas van Zijl | 1 februari 2018
Athletes, dancers, musicians and circus artists have at least two things in common: they have to perform well in high-pressure situations and face challenging physical demands. There is barely any time to recovery, which makes athletes and performing artists prone to injuries due to overload. Codarts Rotterdam (university of the arts) launches research lab PEARL to reduce health problems and optimize athletes’ and artists’ health. Codarts received a grant of 1.6 million euros for PEARL (PErforming artists and Athlete Research Lab), which was obtained from the National Association of Applied Sciences (Nationaal Regieorgaan Praktijkgericht Onderzoek SIA).
PEARL consists of several field labs: the departments of Music, Circus and Dance of Codarts Rotterdam, Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF), Feyenoord Academy, Dutch National Ballet, Scapino Ballet, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Circusstad Rotterdam. The research projects of PEARL will be carried out in these field labs.
“Our performing arts students know that the Codarts educational programme is physically and mentally challenging, and throughout their educational programme they do not want to sustain an injury”, says Janine Stubbe, professor of Performing Arts Medicine at Codarts and director of PEARL. “By monitoring the work load, we try to reduce the injury risk.”
In her daily work, Stubbe notices that athletes and artists push their bodies to the limit in order to maximize their performances. Their passion is their strength and weakness. They are extremely motivated and therefore, finding the right balance between load and load capacity is complicated. Physical and sports medical tests performed by sports therapists and sports scientists should make this search easier. The research population is diverse, so different tests are used. The interval shuttle run test is an appropriate tool to measure the endurance of a football player, but cannot be used to measure the endurance of a dancer.
There is a lot of support for the PEARL research projects. Stubbe: “The collaborating partners agree that monitoring health is important. Missing a match or performance is annoying. However, if the extra recovery time leads to prevention of injuries and sustainable careers, everyone will ultimately benefit from it. ”
Before the launch of PEARL, Stubbe and her research team carried out several pilot studies, leading to average response rates of 85% on monthly health questionnaires. This high response rate indicates that athletes and performing artists want to gain insight into their physical health. They receive their personalized health information via a dashboard that accurately displays all data.
“The athlete or artist decides whether or not action should be taken. The research team ask permission from the artists and athletes to share the results with the medical staff. “We cannot force the athlete or artist to rest or do additional exercises, but if the test results show that there is a problem with the knee joint, it is useful that the physiotherapist is aware of it. ”
“It is important to distinguish between acute and overuse injuries”
PEARL’s mission is clear: to reduce health complaints and to optimize performance. Nevertheless, Stubbe hypothesises that there might be an increase in the number of injuries during the first year of the research projects, because it is the first time that all health complaints will be registered and not only the complaints leading to medical attention or time-loss. Reduction of the number of health problems will take time. “It is important to distinguish between complaints arising from overload and acute injuries. For example, unfortunately it is difficult to prevent soccer injuries caused by aggressive game moves like charging and tackling.”
Reducing the injury risk by 50%
The aim is to reduce the number of overload injuries by 50% within the next eight years. “Furthermore, remaining a high response rate and working in close collaboration with dance and circus companies, orchestras, sport teams and universities of the arts is equally important”.
Click here for more information about Janine Stubbe’s professorship Performing Arts Medicine.